The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Only you can prevent wildfires

Only you can prevent wildfires

With the driest months in recorded history passing by, Texas and its firefighters finally have gotten a series of wildfires under control. But to what avail?

Sure, weather can cause wildfires. But most experts and firefighters believe the majority of the wildfires this year were caused by negligent people. A homeless man in Austin was arrested April 17 for starting a 100-acre wildfire with a small campfire that destroyed eight homes and caused hundreds of evacuations.

The wildfires have consumed more than 1.65 million acres across Texas, and it has all happened with a burn ban spanning 209 of the state’s 254 counties. It is more than twice the average amount of land that burns in Texas in a whole year.

With the burn ban covering the majority of Texas, it’s safe to assume that most of the fires were caused by people, like the homeless man from Austin, setting campfires or tossing cigarette butts.

Preaching about fire safety can get a bit redundant and reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons with Smokey the Bear appearing during commercial breaks, so let’s take the public service announcement approach.

Gov. Rick Perry has asked President Barack Obama to declare the wildfires a federal disaster so the state can get funding from Washington. Until that happens, the cost of maintaining the wildfires is around $2 million per day for the state.

That’s a lot of money, especially when you consider how long the wildfires have spread across Texas, how long they will continue to be a problem and also  what the state is already going through with budget cuts in so many different programs like education and health.

So what should we do? The easy and honest answer, even though it is cheesy, is to accept the blast from the past and listen to Smokey when he says, “Only you can prevent wildfires,” because it’s true.

Smokers are guilty of throwing their cigarette butts out the window as they’re driving down the highway.

Camping enthusiasts are guilty of letting campfires burn out on their own without supervision.

Small-town Texas residents are guilty of throwing their trash in a burning barrel rather than taking it to the local dump.

It all comes down to consciousness. It doesn’t seem like a big deal and it doesn’t seem like a crime, which is why it’s so easy for a fire to happen and why anything having to do with fire needs to have special attention paid to it right now.

The driest March that Texas has ever seen paved the way for a horrible fire season, but a lot of fires still could have been prevented with a little awareness.

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