Monday evening around 10PM, a fire engine soared along Sequoia Road without sounding its siren, stopping abruptly at the entrance to May Watts Park. Other emergency vehicles arrived, too.
Very soon after, neighbors, some walking dogs, gathered at various locations on the sidewalk to watch firefighters, Naperville Park District Police and other law enforcement officers check out the scene. Minutes earlier, the first responders had put out a grass fire that rapidly burned toward a cedar-sided home, much too close for comfort.
Since weather conditions have been hot and dry, thankfully, there was no wind to spread the fire out of control over the distressed grasses. Extreme drought conditions with little to no rainfall throughout Naperville in recent months have created obvious hazards. Talk to youngsters in your life about fire prevention. Be mindful not to set off fireworks and not to pitch lighted cigarette butts.
Plus, the stench of wet smoke is sickening.
The spotlight from the fire engine revealed two large patches of burned grass, apparently started by fireworks, according to investigators.
In the light of this morning’s sunshine, the badly scorched areas seemed bigger than they had in the dark of night. The stench of the wet smoke still lingered.
Fortunately, neighbors were paying attention last night and were quick to call in the emergency.
Be vigilant. Nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans. Many citizens grew up watching Smokey the Bear commercials when his motto was, ” Only you can prevent forest fires.”
Today, Smokey’s motto has changed to “Only you can prevent wildfires.”
Certainly students focused on the environment learn that fire is a necessary component in many ecosystems and controlled burns are necessary to help prevent wildfires. The Naperville Park District manages such burns every year. But during extreme drought conditions, be alert. Sound the warning again to all that “Only you can prevent wildfires.”
Every month Soraya McLaughlin’s PN column features fire-related topics with the understanding that public education is the key to fire prevention. Some of her Fire Safety tips are posted on the City’s Web site.
This morning, PN’s camera captured the photo of the burned grass in May Watts Park. Then seconds later, we turned 90 degrees to the left to take a photo of the peaceful retention pond.
Keep Naperville’s neighborhoods and parks safe and beautiful.
Remember! It’s every citizens responsibility to help keep the community safe by preventing crime. “If you see something, say something.” If you want to be anonymous, call CrimeStoppers at (630) 420-6006.