HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett has proclaimed March 13-19 Wildfire Prevention Week in Pennsylvania, noting that rapidly-changing weather can quickly create tinderbox conditions despite recent rain.
“Even after periods of heavy rain, warming temperatures and drying winds can cause wildfire dangers to spike almost overnight,” Corbett said. “There were more than 360 brush and woodlands fires last spring, demonstrating just how quickly our forest resources can be endangered by acts of carelessness.”
Last spring, volunteer firefighters and Bureau of Forestry personnel battled the more than 360 brush and forest fires, which scorched almost 2,700 acres.
Corbett noted that 98 percent of wildfires are caused by people.
“During dry periods, it takes only a spark to touch off a devastating fire,” Corbett said. “When forest visitors are careless with their smoking or campfires, volunteer firefighters often pay the price, answering calls and putting their lives in danger battling fires that are many times preventable.”
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.
Anglers, campers and other state forest visitors are reminded that 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.
Residents of 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 commonwealth’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.
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” and then, “Forest Fire Protection”).