Every year at this time National Fire Prevention Week rolls around. Most years, a lot of us don’t pay much attention to it if we are aware of it at all. This year should be different. On Sept. 21 a devastating fire struck downtown Old Town, destroying one building and damaging several others. Thankfully, no one was injured, but 11 tenants in Main Street apartments were displaced and the cleanup is continuing. The scar it left downtown will take a long time to heal. Five days prior to the fire, a building in Farmington was leveled by an explosion caused by a propane leak. The blast killed a firefighter and injured eight other people. It also heavily damaged nearby homes. Just last week in Orono, a natural gas leak forced the evacuation of an apartment complex on Mill Street. Thanks to the quick response of area fire departments and Bangor Gas Co. workers, it did not result in an explosion or fire. These events remind us that we are one mechanical failure or overlooked hazard or careless act away from a fiery disaster. As we enter another heating season, and get ready for the holidays, we should take this time to think about what we can do to prevent such occurrences. Turn a few more pages in this issue of the Penobscot Times and you will find tips on protecting your home and family provided by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Red Cross. We urge you to read this material and to act on it. Inspect your home for fire hazards. Check your smoke alarms and change the batteries. Plan escape routes. Talk to your kids about what to do if a fire breaks out. National Fire Prevention Week has never been more timely.

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