5735 Prospect Rd.
Longmont, CO 80503

A plea from the editor:

Be careful with fire!

Rusty Denham

It was a Saturday this June, and the house behind us caught fire. A small grass fire started, unbeknownst to the owner, who happened to be at home. The fire spread into the house, inside the walls and crawlspace before the homeowner discovered the smoke as she was headed out the front door.

I was not at our home at the time, and I only found out about the fire sometime later Ė so I donít know how the grass fire started, and I am speculating as to the possible origins. I am left to worry; of course the fire could have easily been on our property. It could have burned down the barn, and who knows what else.

Certainly I have deluded myself into hoping that we keep the area around our house sufficiently mowed and watered to avoid this particular problem, but who knows. The shrubbery could go up in a flash. It was said that it took the fire department 20 minutes to arrive, and that they couldnít find the house. That is an eternity in the life of a fire.

I am watering the yard extra this year, and we are paying a phenomenal water bill. But even the most expensive water bill is nothing compared with even a minor fire. Still I worry.

Those fireworks I hear, will they spark a fire? It seems like every 5th of July I find all kinds of "rocket" remains in the yard. All it would take is one ember in one spot of grass that has dried to tinder conditions.

And there are the "agricultural burns." Sometimes they smell a lot like household trash, but this is Boulder County, and I know that no one here would burn their trash outside, and so these must be agricultural burns approved in advance by the fire department. It does seem that the fire departments approve these burns even on windy days, and so embers could travel a long, long ways. One report on the recent forest fires said embers could easily go a mile. So I worry.

And, of course, there are smokers. I donít smoke, but smokers have been known to visit. Most of them go outside to smoke. And so I think I am going to have to get an ashtray and put it outside, and make a sort of smoking section Ė because sometimes I find cigarette butts out by the barn, out where the grass is driest. And, of course I sometimes find uncrushed cigarette remains along the road, with other trash left by passers by.

And then there was another fire in the general neighborhood said to have started in the manure. And lightning could hit, and construction is always a potential problem. Nonetheless, if we are all careful, I think we can avoid a lot of pain, suffering and inconvenience, not to mention the monetary losses associated with fires.

So I do have some requests for those folks who burn their trash, woops Ė I mean, who have controlled agriculture burns. Keep the size of the fire to a minimum. Is it really necessary to build bonfires? And also, must these fires be left smoldering for hours? Perhaps it is just my olfactory senses, but it seems that all too often the smoke from these fires lingers most of the day. Perhaps that means that there are embers there, waiting for some wind to blow, waiting to cause a fire.

Perhaps I am just overly sensitive to fire, after all, I lost a cousin who fell into a trash fire and burned to death. My aunt never really recovered. And I lived through a house fire as a child. Still I canít help but wonder if, as expensive as it is, is trash pickup really that unaffordable?



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