Monday, June 23, 2008

Where There's Smoke...

People new to our area notice it right off the bat. A lot of stuff burns down around here.

A consultant and I were going over some of my work a few years ago. Yes, it's cruel and unusual punishment for the consultant. She was struck by the number of big fires here in our area.

A new news director began working at WNEP earlier this year. Same thing.

We've had a lot of new people join the staff during the past few years. They, too, were shocked by the size and frequency of fires here in our area.

So, the question now is "why?"

I've noticed two times of year when there are spikes in fires. The first is during a cold snap. People use space heaters that are better off in the trash. The other is when a heat wave hits, and this has been backed up by a couple local fire chiefs. People buy big air conditioners, then run them using extension cords they bought at the dollar store. The cords are overloaded and then there's a fire.

There are other reasons-- like old structures with old wiring, and there's always arson. There are a few communities currently trying to cope with firebugs running around town. It's sad.

It always could be worse. At least we don't have those massive forest fires like they do in California.

Hats off to our local fire departments. Most visit schools during "fire prevention week" in the fall. It's a valuable service. Perhaps there should be repeat visits in the spring.

It's a complex problem, with no easy answers.