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Originally published: 2014-03-31 10:35:23
Last modified: 2014-03-31 10:36:50

Our View: Fighting fire with good stewardship

Tuesday's late brush with Old Man Winter may not indicate it, but spring fire season is about to arrive in the High Country. 

That season doesn't arrive alone -- with it comes the real potential for wildfires started by human hands. Indeed, nine out of 10 wildfires are begun through human carelessness or intent, the USDA Forest Service informs us.

For many of us, springtime is the time for cleaning up the yard after a harsh winter. But couple that yard work and burning leaves with the dry and windy conditions typical of this time of the year, and you've ignited the No. 1 opportunity for wildfire.

Because of this, the forest service designates late April until mid-May as the spring fire season, and a time for extreme caution. 

Topping that list of cautionary actions is considering alternatives to burning. But if you do elect to burn yard debris, it's important to first obtain a permit (online by the North Carolina Forest Service at http://ncforestservice.gov/burn_permits/burn_permits_main.htm) and then only burn after checking the weather forecast and having on hand water, a shovel and a telephone. And until it's out, a fire should never be left unattended.

Similar caution should be taken by those hearty enough to venture out into the spring woods and build campfires. A special note here: It's not enough to bury a campfire -- the fire can continue to smolder and could return to the surface. Water and dirt should be mixed in with the fire until all material is cool.

The website http://www.smokeybear.com is a good place to reference more information about fire safety. With spring fire season knocking on our door, that site is also a good place to visit with the kids. Wildfire safety begins at home.