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The common sense of playing with matches

It’s that time of year again. Be careful when lighting fires outdoors.
It’s that time of year again. Be careful when lighting fires outdoors. - Gary Shaw

LABRADOR WEST, N.L. — As we all know and have been talking about for some time now, spring has finally arrived with enough change at least to find us out there and doing different things than what we have been used to for a while.

For those of us who are outdoor folks, thing don’t change that much, we are still outdoors. The noticeable difference that we find ourselves faced with, is that what we are doing, as we spend our time outdoors is the bigger difference.

We are in our backyards, we are outside the door at our cabins and we are on the shore of many of our rivers and lakes. This is where the difference comes into play. The snow is gone, the ground is dry, the moss and dry grass is under our feet and we have one common denominator.

We are many times eager to get a little fire going, roasting a few marshmallows, cooking some wieners on a stick, or getting the old iron frying pan out and cooking up a feed of fresh caught fish to everyone’s delight.

Any of these activities, or simply sitting beside the fire enjoying the flames and the peace and quite that our special places give us are all some of the special summer time events that many of us long for.

This is where a dose of harsh reality needs to cross our minds. We can’t forget a few summers ago when we watched the flames from our decks in Labrador West and had our visibility and air quality compromised as we smelled the smoke laying in our beds at night.

We had over 60 cabins and all the contents, some of it irreplaceable, gone. A scar remains across our land that will take decades to recover. Wabush was evacuated, our entire community of Labrador West on alert with genuine fear in the hearts of us all.

Fort McMurray, still not, nor will ever be, fully recovered from the catastrophic end of a fire that impacted all Canadians, many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with family there, that lost everything. The dollar value was only a part of the loss, the personal “stuff” that is gone forever, can never be replaced.

This is where the common sense of playing with matches has to come into play. I am not spouting off a list of municipal or provincial regulations that apply to our recreational use of fire. We all should have the good common sense to take ownership of the matches and the consequences of their use.

We all need to be sure of where we start our fires, not too close to our buildings, and on a surface and surrounding area free of any flammable material that could cause a small controlled fire to spread into something that could have catastrophic results.

When you are done with your fire make sure it is completely out. We have lots of water handy wherever we are. Don’t be stingy on its use.

If it’s too windy or too dry, don’t gamble, just don’t start a fire.

Anyone with questions about fire regulations in our communities or out in the country, contact your municipal or provincial authorities for clarity and direction of your fire activities. These folks are the professionals, never hesitate in calling them when you have the slightest doubt.

The important part of your recreational fire use lies clearly in your own hands. Learn and practice its safe use and pass it on to our youth. We will all be so much better off.

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