Our Voice: Since fire danger is high, we can all help prevention

August 2, 2013 

You don't need us to tell you that it is hot out there -- and has been for a while. Or that our lovely summer sun has turned much of our vegetation into tinder.

Despite Thursday's respite from the heat, it still is that time of year.

Our skies have been hazy lately, and it's hard to know whether it's from the fire near Wenatchee or the one over in the Goldendale area. Either way, the haze is a constant reminder that at this time of year, wildfires are fast moving and hard to contain.

The 1,600 firefighters working on the Colockum Tarps fire in Kittitas County will attest to that.

Although fires are not inherently bad.

The U.S. Forest Service points out that some ecosystems depend on fires to clear out debris, disease and insects in forests.

Fires also trigger a rebirth of forests.

In the Western United States, we have 25 wildfires burning now. We're not sure what the proper number of fires should be or how the "good" fires are managed, but 25 is a bit much.

Officials agree with us. On Wednesday, the Washington State Parks Commission announced a fire ban, including charcoal briquettes, in all state parks.

Although some fires are started by lightning, our friend Smokey the Bear says 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans.

The good news is that also means that 9 out of 10 wildfires are within our control to stop before they even start.

Wildfires can start from unattended burning, a lawnmower spark or even thin brake pads on your car.

We all need to be careful.

So when you're out, be smart.

Make sure to check your power equipment regularly. Don't drive on underinflated tires or let any metal drag from your vehicle.

Soak used charcoal in water and dispose of it by hand so it is cool to the touch.

There are many precautions we can take, and each of us can encourage our friends to use their heads this fire season.

Although our community lines three rivers and we have lots of irrigated farm land, we need to remember that we live in a desert.

One can see the blackened sides of Badger Mountain and Jump Off Joe from most of the Tri-Cities.

We've been lucky so far this year that our local fires have been minor and quickly contained.

That could change almost instantly.

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