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Ennis Daily News

Small mistakes lead to big issues

I came to the realization at a young age that people learn and retain valuable life lessons through experience rather than from being told by authority figures what not to do.
I believe it was after I stuck a paperclip in an electrical socket – subsequently sending a five-minute numbing effect through my arm up to my shoulder – that I finally figured out that I need to pay attention to the warnings my parents, teachers and other elders were trying to give me to avoid such events. Nevermind the fact that I learned all of this at 16 years old and could have saved myself a very worthwhile lesson earlier in my existence.
When I was 13 I spent a Sunday afternoon with my brother and his friend – Nick – playing in a field next to Nick’s house. In this field was an abandoned barn that we were told was never used and would be torn down some day.
Since we saw no harm in playing in the barn, we decided to light hay on fire and watch it burn. My only explanation for this is that in all honesty, pretty much every little boy is a pyromaniac at heart.
However, in our defense, we were the most cautious pre-teen pyromaniacs possible. The three of us would light a pile of hay, watch it burst up into a ball of flame and once it quickly singed to a crisp we would powder the ashes with dirt to make sure all the heat was smothered and no smoke remained. It was a dangerous way to kill an hour, but we thought we had controlled all the variables.
Well, about eight hours later while my brother and the rest of my family were watching “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” we received a phone call with the distressing news. The barn we were playing in was now a smoldering heap of burnt wood.
Apparently, one of the boys involved (I will keep his name private for reputation’s sake) had put a match that failed to light when struck inside a cabinet in the barn. The city’s fire chief told the three of us the fire had initially started in the vicinity of where the cabinet was placed, which was the spot where only one match had been put. The rest of the matches were burnt up in each individual little ball of flame they caused.
Another thing we were told when being somewhat scolded about our actions (albeit rightfully scolded) was that while the fire department was putting out the fire caused by our childish antics, two elderly people had suffered some sort of medical conditions needing the department’s assistance and a fire alarm had gone off at some commercial building in town.
The three of us felt ashamed for what we had done. We were relieved to find out later that the two people who were hospitalized had been released and our actions had not had any fatal consequences.
The reason I have relayed this humiliating and life-forming story from my youth to you is this: don’t let laziness or immaturity cause you to make a mistake during the county’s burn ban. Let the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court figure out the best time to lift the burn ban so no unnecessary wildfires are started.

Matt Cook is managing editor at the Ennis Daily News and can be reached at editor@ennisdailynews.com

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Posted by on Feb 26 2009. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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