Fearing fire is lesson of week

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 7, 2008

NATCHEZ — On Friday, 3-year-old Lakala Thornburg struck her mother’s lighter and ignited the bed sheets, burning her hand and causing small amounts of damage.

Lakala’s mother, Roberta White was in the other room and did not know what had happened until Lakala’s twin sister Jakala told her, father Carson Thornburg said.

“Her sister came running in here like, ‘Ew mama, my sisters’ playing with that lighter,’” Carson said. “By that time it was already started.”

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A mattress was ruined and the fire damaged a section of carpet and wall. The fire was extinguished before fire fighters arrived.

Incidents like this are one of the main focuses of Fire Prevention Week, which is headed up by Natchez Fire Department Capt. Aaron Wesley, who also serves as fire marshal.

Children playing with lighters is a major problem, Wesley said. Parents need to teach children to stay away from them. Children playing with matches and lighters have started three fires this year.

“That’s how kids start fires, they imitate what their parents do,” Wesley said.

“If you see a lighter or matches, who do you tell? Tell an adult, tell a teacher,” Wesley said he told students at Adams County Christian School this morning.

Throughout the week Wesley is speaking at schools around town to introduce children to fire safety measures.

“This morning we went out to ACCS and took the truck out and gave the kids stickers, badges and boots,” he said.

They also sang stop, drop and roll songs and demonstrated the stop, drop and roll method.

They also told children not to cook or iron clothes, among other things.

But fire safety does not stop with children. Wesley is also going to the Natchez Senior Center this week to give a presentation on fire safety.

“The most important thing people can have is a smoke detector,” he said. “It saves over 50 percent of lives.

And for seniors, Wesley said that he pushes the First Alert Smoke detector, which can be tested using any remote control. This saves them the danger of climbing on something to test a detector and possibly falling.

“I stress this one a lot because you don’t have to take the broom stick to it,” he said.

In addition to visits at area schools and the senior center, the Natchez Fire Department will be giving out advice, pamphlets and other materials at the Natchez Mall from 10 a.m. until noon and at Wal-Mart from 9 a.m. until noon Saturday.

“We try to make the community aware of what’s going on,” he said. “Believe it or not, fire prevention works.”

The Fire Department will also sell tickets for its fish fry, scheduled for Oct. 25. The $7 tickets will go to benefit fire prevention education.