These disasters seem (for now) to strike mainly elsewhere and remain “unthinkable” in the pleasant, care-free Buda Hills, Lillafüred and so forth. But such tragedies (think Notre Dame) with high tolls could arise here too, especially in late summer when the land mass is at its driest.

With so much at stake, and no matter who or what starts these fires, it wouldn't be unreasonable these days for authorities and non-authorities alike to respectfully ask smokers at vulnerable landscapes not to indulge other than in restricted areas only, and carefully dispose of their cigarette ends. Not only are they dangerous but they are a modern-day plague and found everywhere.

This and other preventatives could be presented in similar vein as inspired by the downtown bus stop signs, where the law forbids smoking directly at these premises. So, why shouldn't this same, simple code of conduct apply to paths leading to forested areas too? Even so, this will not deter everyone from respecting the law.

Naturally, the last thing those-who-escape-from-the-city want is to be burdened with thoughts of forest fires while taking a ride on the Children's Railway. This was certainly the case with me last autumn when having a family outing there on a hot sunny day.

All was going well until suddenly and to my dismay I saw another family smoking under a tree. Unfortunately this is nothing new and clearly, whoever they were, they were giving no thought to today's times. What they could have caused is unthinkable and goes without saying.

This was supposed to be a calm, easy-going Sunday but it backfired horribly. I glared at those thoughtless and irresponsible people, and they sensed my displeasure. I’m not claiming to be holier-than-thou. I used to be a smoker and never understood what the fuss was all about when lighting up. Cravings persist and it's really tough dealing with this addiction. But it's no excuse.

In addition, it's troubling to see schoolchildren smoking. But I was the same. It seems ludicrous 30-plus years later that cigarettes are still as relatively available to them as sweets. Surely it would be more beneficial to increase the purchase price and the consent age for smoking? Then taking the kids to school would be a lot more pleasant.

In order to protect our fragile environment, more law enforcement must be achieved to avoid future disasters. The more preventatives there are, the less adversaries there will be. Then we can all really look forward to returning to the Buda peaks in greater comfort and safety. As well as venture to the Bükk, Mátra and Transylvania when it comes to next time.


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