Science fiction author Ray Bradbury, who died this week at age 91, is best known for his book “Fahrenheit 451,” a tale of a 24th-century dystopia where books are outlawed and the job of firefighters is to burn any copies that turn up. The title refers to the temperature at which paper will supposedly ignite.
Here in the 21st century, the job of firefighters is putting out fires.
Wednesday’s fire west of Great Bend only claimed stubble, but crops were reportedly lost in a fire in northern Barton County over the Memorial Day weekend. In each case the cause is unknown; what we do know is that current dry conditions surely helped the fires spread.
That’s why a burn ban is in effect for Barton County. Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller told county commissioners that fire chiefs across the county are in favor of the ban until we get more moisture.
Landowners should check with their local fire chiefs before burning. A fire chief will only issue a permit if conditions are favorable. Open campfires and other fires are also prohibited under the ban.
Outdoor residential fireplaces, stoves and grills are not included in the ban, but people should think twice about starting any kind of fire. As Smokey Bear says, “If you start a fire, put it out.”
It’s a good idea to use caution any time that fire is involved. For example, Wednesday’s blaze could very likely have been started by a lit cigarette tossed from a car. There’s a ban on doing that at any time.
Bradbury’s writing sparked ideas, and they spread. That’s good.
But in the case of literal fire, it only takes a spark to create a blaze that could put lives and property at risk, especially in current conditions.