Just two blocks from and several hours after the fire that leveled the Fox Theatre, preschool-age children learned important rules for fire safety from one of the most knowledgeable and recognizable bears around.
For one week every year, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Imperial County Office of Education give the Smokey Bear fire safety program to 3-, 4- and 5-year-old children across Imperial Valley.
Thursday's performances at the El Centro Public Library, like others in the week, were geared toward young children. Consisting of two puppet shows, explanation of the five rules of match safety and a special appearance by Smokey Bear himself, children are informed and entertained, too.
Organizers say it's almost never too early to teach kids about fire prevention.
"We try to get the behavior started at a young age," said Roxanne Provaznik, fire prevention specialist and public information officer for the California Department of Forestry San Diego Ranger Unit and the Volunteers in Prevention.