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Be careful out there

Officially, fire season has not yet started. It doesn’t matter.

Just this week, firefighters have battled a 345-acre forest fire near Prospect, four grass fires caused by out-of-control burn piles and a small conflagration ignited by — we’re not kidding — a cigarette tossed from a vehicle on Interstate 5.

The common denominator: people who should have been more careful or, in the case of the cigarette-smoking motorist, actually conscious.

The cause of the Medco B fire had not been determined Tuesday, but there has been no lightning recently. If anybody wants to wager that it wasn’t human-caused, we’ll take that bet.

The burn piles were legal, because fire season isn’t in effect. But they got out of control anyway. Fortunately, none burned more than an acre.

The weather has been warm and dry, there is plenty of fuel thanks to the wet winter, and it’s been windy — perfect conditions for spreading fire rapidly. All it takes is a spark.

That’s why Ashland Fire & Rescue suspended all burn permits effective Tuesday. They’re not waiting for the Oregon Department of Forestry to announce the official start of fire season, expected no later than June 1. Neither should you.

If you have tall grass and weeds on your property, get them cut down now. Don’t wait.

Many summer wildfires are started by lightning — something beyond anyone’s control — but many are human-caused. That’s something we can control, so use care and common sense.

And if you like to smoke while you drive, for God’s sake, use your ashtray.

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