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Fire season arrives

take care

October 02, 2007

The West Virginia Division of Forestry last week issued an alert saying that this year's fire season might be the worse since 1987, when 428,000 acres burned.

As a result, forestry officials said that a number of precautions must be taken to curb the fire danger.

Precautions are good, but in our view, it would be better if open burning were banned during the entire fire season, if not completely.

Until the 2007 fire season ends Dec. 31, the following precautions must be taken:

Open burning is banned between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Any such burning must take place between 4 p.m. and 7 a.m., when the air is cooler and winds are calmer.

A 10-foot circle around the fire must be maintained, with vegetation there stripped down to the soil.

Fires must be attended until they are completely extinguished. The fine for disobeying that rule is $300, plus the cost of fighting any resulting fire and any damage to property.

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The practice of using "burn barrels" to dispose of trash in this region is long-established, but can be dangerous.

Recent examples include a March 2006 fire on Pen Mar Road when a burn barrel blaze spread to a vacant house, then to two others.

In early September, embers from a burn barrel blaze spread to a pile of used tires and then to a building, causing $25,000 in damage.

But the worst recent burn barrel blaze took place late last month in Hamilton Township, Pa., when fire spread from a barrel to a nearby warehouse. An estimated $2 million in goods was destroyed.

Is such damage worth saving a few dollars on trash service? Think about that before you light up that burn barrel again.

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