Fire officials say there are predictable times of the year when firefighters tend to respond to more than their usual share of fires. Springtime is one of them.

Fire Battalion Chief Gordon Nicholl said gasoline can be like a .22-caliber gun - common but lacking respect."We don't realize that one gallon of properly vaporized gasoline has the same explosive force as 83 pounds of dynamite," he said. "You could blow a house right off its foundation . . . and we treat it so casually, with no respect whatsoever."

Instead of using gasoline to clean the garage or other things, Nicholl encourages people to use the proper cleaning chemicals and compounds. And never, he said, fill a lawn mower or any other gas-powered machine while it is running.

Also, gasoline should always be stored in a spring-loaded safety can that will seal if it is tipped over. "For heaven sakes, never in a glass jar," he said.

"Just give it a little bit of common sense."