And so it begins.
Scanners of emergency radio traffic are fixtures in newspaper offices, and The Goshen News editorial department is no exception. The devices guide news staffers to crash, crime and fire scenes. They help us know what’s happening and where.
Shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday, “what’s happening” was a grass fire. By our unresearched reckoning, it was the first of the season in our readership area. We doubt it’s the last.
Looking on the bright side, conditions conducive to grass fires indicate that spring is finally here, or nearly so. As seasonal hallmarks, though, we prefer the sight of frolicking children and people enjoying the parks. We’ll pass on spectacles that require emergency responders.
Sometimes it’s hard to assign blame for a grass or field blaze. Consider trains. A spark set off a track by a passing locomotive can find fuel in nearby dry grass, and soon firefighters are on the move. Such fires are an unfortunate byproduct of the rail traffic vital to commerce.
Too often, though, grass and field fires are the result of misadventure. These are the occasions when wind speed, dryness and human folly combine.
We’re thinking of the people who put too much faith in a “burn barrel” on a too-windy day. We’re thinking of ill-advised brush- and ditchbank-clearing projects that involve flame. Culprits, too, can be found in smokers who carelessly toss cigarettes out the window of their passing vehicles.
Often grass fires burn themselves out in a relatively small area. But there’s always they potential for them to spread to larger areas and threaten both structures and the people dwelling within. These blazes also stretch the resources — and likely the patience — of the firefighters called to extinguish them, time and time again.
This year, let’s give those fire departments a break and use some common sense — and maybe an ashtray.