Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

April 13, 2014

Only you can prevent grass and field fires

Maybe you can feel it in the air, too.

We at The Goshen News are cheered by the much-awaited, and welcome, return of spring. The greenery makes us glad. Seeing runners and bicyclists — many in shorts, no less — reminds us that we need to kick our exercise regimen into a higher gear.

It’s tough to find anything negative about the arrival of spring. “Tough” doesn’t mean “impossible.”

The News editorial office is home to a couple of emergency radio scanners. These help alert us to police, fire and ambulance calls throughout Elkhart County.

Every spring, our scanners remind us that humans are capable of staggeringly bad judgment. This past week, News staffers heard local fire departments dispatched to several grass and field fires around the county.

Grass and field fires don’t always result from poor decision-making. Rail traffic has been known to send off sparks that ignite nearby dry vegetation, for example. By and large, though, humans are the culprits behind these blazes.

Weather-wise, the first quarter of 2014 can be summed up as cold and wet. That no longer holds true. Emergency dispatches to field fires is proof enough that stuff is dry enough to burn.

Wind, variable in direction and speed, is a wild card. It can quickly turn a manageable ditch burn-off into an out-of-control blaze. Think a burn barrel always contains a fire? Think again.

Basically, we should do a better job of assessing the situation before igniting dried grass and brush. If not extinguished quickly enough, field fires can spread to nearby homes. Grass and field blazes also task the time, manpower and resources of our local firefighters, many of whom serve their communities on a volunteer basis.

Spring is here. Let’s enjoy the season safely.

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Classes at Goshen Community Schools and St. John the Evangelist Catholic School will begin the 2014-15 school year on Thursday, Aug. 7. School corporations throughout the state have been trending toward earlier start dates the past few years. When do you think school should start?

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