HARRISBURG, PA — Members of the Wolf Administration visited Gifford Pinchot State Park in York County on Friday to highlight the growing risks wildfires pose to recreational sites, personal property, and critical industries throughout the commonwealth.
State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego praised volunteer fire companies’ service to their communities, as well as fire fighters who have joined the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (DCNR) Bureau of Forestry crews battling wildfires far beyond Pennsylvania’s borders.
“Now more than ever, we know that wildfires pose a dangerous and growing threat to our state’s forests, economic interests and the communities that live and recreate near them,” Trego said. “Despite the persistent rain we’ve seen throughout the summer, wildfires and brush fires remain a risk, especially as we head into the fall wildfire season.”
The greatest danger of wildfires in Pennsylvania occurs during the spring months of March, April, and May, and the autumn months of October and November. In Pennsylvania, 99 percent of all wildfires are caused by people.
“We encourage people to be mindful when building a bonfire, burning trash, smoking or doing any activity outdoors that could potentially spark a devastating wildfire,” said Mike Kern, chief of the Division of Forest Fire Protection within DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry. “Please exercise common sense to help limit the threat of wildfires and help ease the burden for the volunteer firefighters who respond to these emergencies.”
Certain conditions are necessary for a wildfire to occur:
- An available fuel source, such as dried grass or leaves
- Dry conditions, including low relative humidity
- An ignition source — some way for the fire to start
“With 16.6 million acres of forestland, Pennsylvania has the most abundant hardwood forest in the nation and leads the nation in the production and export of hardwood lumber,” said Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Fred Strathmeyer, Jr. “Forest products like cabinetry and wood flooring feed $39.1 billion into our state economy annually and support 168,600 jobs across Pennsylvania. A carelessly started wildfire threatens not only a precious natural resource, but our economy and our jobs.”
Debris burning, equipment use, power lines, and campfires, are some of the most common causes of wildfires in Pennsylvania. Before building a campfire, utilizing a firepit, or burning debris, residents should consult the local government to learn about any restrictions or ordinances regarding fires.
Wildfire prevention is a message brought to people across the country by the well-known figure, Smokey Bear. Detailed information about wildfire prevention as well as materials for kids and educators is on the www.SmokeyBear.com.
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