October 28, 2010 12:11:00 PM
It has been nearly a year since the worst fire in modern Mississippi history, and with another season of chilly weather bearing down on us, we''re hoping lessons have been learned.
In late December, fire tore through the Academy Crossing Apartments in Starkville. Nine people died, including six children. The cause was ruled either electrical, or carelessness with a lit cigarette.
As the weather cools, out will come the space heaters, the candles and the fire logs. People will get careless. As happens most every year, there will be fires. Tragically, someone in our area will probably die in a fire.
October is Fire Prevention Month. In Columbus, firefighters have been canvassing schools, community centers and other places, spreading the gospel of fire safety. By a Columbus Fire and Rescue official''s estimation, nearly 3,000 people have been educated by the department on safety.
Fire officials have also been calling on businesses, checking their fire safety equipment and looking for hazards.
There''s less oversight for apartment buildings and homes. Fire officials will tell you they don''t have the manpower to check every apartment complex -- safety is up to the apartment owner. Of course, they don''t inspect homes. That''s up to the homeowner.
It goes against our good judgment to tell you to put the paper down. But put it down -- now -- and check your smoke detectors. If you don''t have them and don''t think you can afford them, call your local fire department; they may be able to help. Or, head down to the hardware store and buy some. If you live in an apartment, call your landlord or maintenance person to install working safety equipment. Your life is at stake.
And, if you burn a fire in your fireplace or use space heaters, use caution and care. Teach everyone in your household, especially children, to do the same.
Do you have an escape plan in case of fire? Formulate one, and share it with your family.
Let''s not repeat the tragedy at Academy Crossing. We urge everyone to be safe this fall and winter.