USA — The mascot of the U.S. Forest Service urges folks to prevent forest fires, but what about someone trying to set Smokey himself ablaze? A sign just above Ashford-North Cove Volunteer Fire Department on U.S. 221 North features Smokey and removable placards that allows firefighters to inform residents of the level of forest fire threat: very high, high, moderate and low. Lt. Brent Rumfelt of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office said Thomas Swofford, the North Cove fire chief, reported around 10:30 a.m. Monday that someone stole three of the four placards and tried to set fire to the sign. The lieutenant added that some type of accelerant had been poured on it. The window where the placard shows was charred. Ashford-North Cove firefighters built the sign, according to Rumfelt. He estimated the damage and theft of the placards at $400. Anyone with information about the culprits or the crime is asked to call the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office at 652-4000 or McDowell County Crimestoppers at 65-CRIME. With Crimestoppers, your identity remains anonymous, and you could receive a cash reward.