Governor Tom Corbett has proclaimed March 17-23 as Wildfire
Prevention Week in Pennsylvania, noting warming temperatures and drying March winds have combined to increase fire dangers across Pennsylvania’s forests and brush lands.
“Last spring brought many brush and woodlands fires, showing us how quickly our wealth of forest resources can be endangered,” Corbett said. “People cause 98 percent of wildfires; a mere spark by a careless person can touch off a devastating forest blaze during dry periods when conditions enable wildfires to spread quickly.”
“Common sense can limit the threat of wildfires,” Corbett said. “When state residents and forest visitors are careless with burning trash, campfires and smoking, volunteer firefighters often pay the price, answering call after call in woodlands that are ripe for damaging, life-threatening wildfires.”
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) 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 the 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.
For more information on Wildfire Prevention Week activities, contact local district foresters; call the Bureau of Forestry at (717) 787-2925; or visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us (select “Forestry” under “Quick Links” then “Wildfire”).