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Can we stop burning already?

December 01, 2006

The Wednesday afternoon accident that injured a 4-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy is regrettable, for two reasons.

The first is that two so young have experienced pain and suffering, caused because one of them tossed an aerosol can into a trash fire.

The second is that in too many local jurisdictions, the "tradition" of disposing of trash by burning it is unfortunately alive and well.

The Herald-Mail's archives are full of stories about trash fires that got out of hand. In July 2005, a trash fire in Williamsport spread and burned down a two-story house, which was vacant at the time.

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In 2004, a 14-year-old boy in the Clear Spring area was burned on the hands, face and neck while the family was burning trash and an aerosol can exploded.

In 2000, a Washington County resident living on Pectonville Road burned trash in a metal barrel. The barrel was next to a shed, which caught fire. Then the house caught fire and before it was extinguished, two were left homeless.

There have also been other incidents in which trash fires got out of control and no one was hurt. But in all of those, firefighters, rescue personnel and others responded. And, as everyone knows, there are costs and risks involved each time ambulances and fire engines leave their stations.

There might have been some justification for open burning of waste before the creation of public landfills and the start of local recycling programs for everything from aluminum cans to corrugated cardboard. Not now.

Let the residents of the Tri-State area resolve to make open burning a part of history we don't repeat.

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