Thursday, March 15, 2012

Governor Tom Corbett proclaims March 18-24 Wildfire Prevention Week in Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Corbett has proclaimed March 18-24 Wildfire Prevention Week in Pennsylvania, noting a relatively warm and dry winter has greatly increased the risk of spring wildfires in much of the state.
"Warm, sunny days and drying March winds can cause wildfire dangers to spike almost overnight," Corbett said. "Last spring, wet, cool weather proved to be firefighters' strongest ally, helping curb brush and woodlands fires that usually can be traced to carelessness and always endanger our vast forest resources."
Last spring, volunteer firefighters and Bureau of Forestry personnel battled about 150 reported brush and forest fires that scorched almost 400 acres. The largest was mid-April blaze that burned 100 acres in northeastern Pennsylvania.

"Almost all wildfires can be traced back to people," Corbett noted. "A mere spark by a careless person can touch off a devastating forest blaze during dry periods when conditions are especially ripe for wildfires to spread. We urge residents and visitors to use common sense with campfires, outdoor burning and smoking materials."
State Bureau of Forestry statistics show nearly 85 percent of Pennsylvania's wildfires occur in March, April and May, before the greening of state woodlands and brush lands. Named for rapid spread through dormant dry vegetation, under windy conditions, wildfires annually scorch nearly 10,000 acres of state and private woodlands.
Anglers, campers and other state forest visitors are reminded open fires are prohibited on state forestland from March 1 to May 25, and when the fire danger is listed as high, very high, or extreme, unless authorized by district foresters.
Communities in heavily wooded areas are urged to follow wildfire prevention and suppression methods of the Pennsylvania Firewise Community Program to safeguard life and property.
DCNR's Bureau of Forestry is responsible for prevention and suppression of wildfires on Pennsylvania's 17 million acres of state and private woodlands and brush lands. The bureau maintains a fire-detection system, and works with fire wardens and volunteer fire departments to ensure they are trained in the latest advances in fire prevention and suppression

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