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Wildfires and prevention

By Barksdale Fire Prevention Agency 2d Civil Engineer Squadron

Barksdale has experienced a hot, dry summer this year and conditions are favorable for a wildfire.

A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or in a wilderness area. Also referred to as brush, forest and grass fires, each wildfire can cost more than 10 million dollars in damage.

However, wildfires cost more than just money; they contribute to many deaths to both the populace affected and firefighters.

In the past ten years, 180 firefighters have become victims of wildfires. While in 2008, 35 wildfires caused $2.34 billion in damage, 15 civilian deaths, 60 civilian injuries and the lives of 32 firefighters. Out of 69 fatal fires, 20 were caused by burning trash and campfires, 11 from arson and three from cutting equipment, while the other fires were caused by natural sources.

There are various ways in which these fires are started and can spread. Although lightening is the number one cause of these fires, other factors such as land layout, vegetation and weather conditions also play contributing factors.

On top of natural causes, human factors such as campfires, improperly disposed of cigarettes, cutting equipment and fireworks can be attributed to wildfire igniters. Here on Barksdale policies state that fireworks and open burning, such as a campfire or burning trash, are prohibited.

Each individual can do their part in minimizing fire risks.

Never leaving a BBQ unattended and keeping matches out of the reach of children are important in avoiding fire risk. Ask yourself, "Is this safe? Are those dry leaves too close to my BBQ?" By being aware of your surroundings, eliminating hazards and making proper decisions, costly and deadly fires here at Barksdale can be prevented.

Although not all fires can be prevented, most can if certain precautions are taken. Have a bucket of water or an extinguisher near a campfire or BBQ. Properly dispose of smoking material in a designated area to prevent re-ignition. On-and-off base fire safety should be practiced at all times. Smokey the Bear said it best, "Only you can prevent forest fires."

For any questions, please call the fire prevention office at 456-2573.