from Outdoors column WATERWORKS by Gordon Prickett, for
the 3/7/2012 Aitkin Independent Age
Cabin owners and guests last summer on both sides of our lake home enjoyed late night bonfires. They collect dead wood on their property in woodpiles and burn it in large bonfires over the weekend. In between gatherings their fire-ring ashes are smoldering until the next load of wood is piled on and ignited. At the end of the weekend the embers sometimes are still glowing. No one is around. They could be out on the lake for one last boat ride or headed back to the Cities.
In late July 2011 national news broadcasts carried a story from the Southern California hills above Los Angeles. High desert wildfires were raging out of control. When fire fighters would encircle an area to limit the spreading fires, they didn’t declare it was secure until they had collected the embers. Strong winds in the area have been known to fan embers into flames that reignited the countryside.
As I pictured the embers being collected above L A, I recalled the recent strong southerly winds in our township that gusted to velocities over 40 miles per hour.
Fire prevention is not very complex, but one does have to be conscious of danger when playing with fire. A watering can full of lake water next to the fire ring is the first step.
Water the ashes. Douse the glowing embers when the party is over. This is the last step. So simple and inexpensive to do. This practice provides the "Fire Insurance" that every lakeshore resident and every responsible visitor needs - to prevent catastrophic losses.
EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT IT
From drought to violent snowstorms in just a few days, the headline writers keep us posted on the changing weather. Some of the heaviest wet snow I can remember has just closed our local schools and finally brought out happy snowmobilers. Snow plows, snow blowers, shovels, and roof rakes are out in force, just a few weeks before the vernal equinox. A meltdown will come soon enough, and early lake levels are expected to be near normal in these parts. I’m ready for ice-out about a month from now.