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Garfield County is accustomed to dealing with fires.There were the Storm King Fire, Coal Seam Fire and Panorama Fire, to name a few. More recently, Rifle dealt with the Labor Day arson fires and Glenwood dealt with a pair of structure fires in the last six weeks – one on Easter in West Glenwood and the other fire that damaged the Grand Avenue Mall.The causes behind the fires range from nature to human malice to human error. The easiest cause to prevent is human error.Many of us, regardless of age, have the voice of our mother echoing in the back of our brain: “Don’t play with matches.”We don’t always listen to Mom.The West Glenwood Fire allegedly started with two teens playing with a lighter and a gas can. Glenwood Springs Police Lt. Bill Kimminau said he doesn’t believe the teens went into the building with the intention of burning it down, but they obviously lacked a full understanding of the consequences of mixing fire and fuel.There was also a small wildfire up Four Mile Road April 13 that appears to have been human-caused. Youths are suspected.In Rifle, an 8-year-old playing with a lighter started a fire that left an apartment badly damaged and several families homeless.Plenty of fires have been started by adults as well, whether by being careless with a welding torch or a little too bold with a “controlled” burn.This is controlled burn season, and it’s never a good time to throw caution to the wind. Fire season has hit the valley. Nature and bad luck will undoubtedly supply a few fires, but let’s keep avoidable flames to a minimum.Educating children on the dangers and consequences of fire is key. As adults, set a good example by using caution and good sense when working with fire.This is also a good opportunity for schools to hammer home the message of the dangers of fires.With the heat of summer approaching, the wildfire season will come as well. Campfire safety and being extra careful should be priority No. 1.Fire will always be an unfortunate part of our communities. It’s up to us to keep the human-started fires to a minimum.
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