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Our view: Fire concerns from the Forest

Our view from afar of the Colorado wildfires is frightening enough that our ears pricked up last week when the U.S. Forest Service issued a reminder about wildfires in the Allegheny National Forest.

One of those abandoned campfires started a wildfire on Oct. 15 that continues to burn along a narrow rocky ridge west of the Minister Creek campground. That fire has been contained to one acre, Craig Kostrzewski, forest service fire management officer, told the Times Observer. A second fire near Sheffield was reported on Oct. 18 and is also still burning.

“Both fires are still burning,” he told the Times Observer on Wednesday. “The soil moisture we have received certainly helped to curtail (the) fire danger. Our soils right now have several inches of dryness to them.”

Yikes.

“We’re still finding some heat,” he said. “We’ve got a handle on them. We appreciate the combined suppression response with our local, county, and state partners. Combined efforts from local volunteer fire departments and Forest fire resources from the Minister Creek fire were able to quickly contain this fire to three acres≥”

Thank goodness the fires are contained, but we’d feel more at ease if the fires were controlled or, even better, extinguished. We’re confident the fires will be put out and our forest will escape relatively unscathed.

We also know, however, that these fires didn’t need to be burning in the first place. The leading cause of fires is abandoned campfires and debris that is left burning after people leave the forest.

Are there seriously people who missed all those Smokey Bear commercials? And no, these fires were not a result of environmental change. These fires in our back yard be a reminder that the cuddly mascot had a deadly serious point — only we can prevent forest fires.

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