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Advocate editorial board opinion: Let's keep organization able to help those in need

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Aug. 29, 2011 at 3:29 a.m.

Victoria and the Crossroads continue to be a tinderbox, ready to ignite dangerous fires that potentially threaten the lives of animals, homes and people.

We see fires breaking out just about every week - sometimes, every day - since summer began.

Linda May, emergency services director of the American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter, said the six counties her chapter serves has already had 28 house fires this year in which families were helped. The chapter's year began July 1 and ends June 30, 2012.

Last year during the same period, 42 house fires were recorded. So since July 1 this year, fires are already more than half of last year's total, with only two months into the year.

The local chapter serves Goliad, Victoria, Jackson, Lavaca, DeWitt and Calhoun counties. Families that have been displaced receive lodging, clothes, food - usually until they can arrange for their well being.

Clearly, we need to help our local chapter of the Red Cross.

May said Red Cross spends about $800 per family of four. But larger families drive up the cost.

"About $12,000 to $15,000 was spent in the last month," she said.

Why so many fires? The hot weather may have a little to do with it.

Certainly, triple-digit temperatures can have a toll on our electrical infrastructure.

But May said she personally believes the hot weather has a direct effect on wiring in a house. So when she leaves her house, she turns off the ceiling fans, sets the temperature on the thermostat higher and unplugs all electrical plugs.

She added that all of the house fires have started because of various electrical problems.

Victoria County Fire Marshal Ron Pray said May's caution as an extra measure of safety is great.

But he said more common causes of the fires are worn connections, overloaded plugs, inadequate size of electrical cord and extension cords used as a permanent connection.

"We have had a substantial amount of fires - well above normal this year." Pray said. So it's not a bad idea to inspect those kinds of connections.

We think residents in the Crossroads should take all measures to prevent a house fire in their homes. May and Pray give good advice to avoid such fires.

But in the interim - before things begin to cool off for fall - the Red Cross and fire victims need our help.

If you want to help the Red Cross, send monetary donations to 2805 N. Navarro St., Suite 500, Victoria, 77901. Or bring the donation by the office. Make checks out to the American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter if you want the money to stay locally.

If you want to donate directly to a family or fire victim, phone the Red Cross at 361-573-2671 to make arrangements.

We hope for more rain and good safety practices. And we urge you to help the Red Cross help those who have been directly affected by fires.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.

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