Wolf Administration Warns of Heightened Spring Wildfire Dangers

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HARRISBURG, PA — With trout fishing and many other outdoors activities increasing at a time when woodlands and brush can become tinder dry in just a day of direct sunlight and a light breeze, the Wolf Administration is urging all residents to guard against increased dangers of wildfire in Pennsylvania’s 17 million acres of forestlands.

State officials noted wildfire danger is normally higher in the spring before the trees leaf out, and critical conditions can develop almost overnight in many forested areas of Pennsylvania.

“Amid the pandemic we know so many are seeking outdoor pursuits. Fishing, spring turkey hunting, and hiking soon will be popular,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “With dry spring conditions, it takes only a careless moment to ignite a devastating forest fire. We know outdoor burning is the leading cause of wildfires throughout the state and more than 99 percent of Pennsylvania wildfires are caused by people.”

To assist the public with easy access to information, DCNR has added new maps to the wildfire webpage, which are updated daily and provide observed and expected conditions in the state.

Some recreational activities on state forest lands such as campfires and outdoor cooking are dependent upon current fire conditions and not permitted when Wildfire Danger Ratings are High or above.

The Commonwealth is encouraging visitors to check the fire condition maps before engaging in these activities and are reminded that campfires are prohibited on state forest lands from March 1 to May 25 regardless of conditions.

With the spring gobbler season opening in the coming weeks, Dunn is also urging hunters and other woodlands visitors to be especially careful with campfires amid dry vegetation.

The need to guard against wildfires increases each year as more development encroaches on heavily wooded tracts.

Property owners should always consider the weather and conditions when burning outdoors. If it’s windy or dry, burning should be postponed until conditions change. A water hose, rake, and shovel should be handy when burning outdoors, and combustible materials cleared within 10 feet of a fire.

Details on wildfire prevention can be obtained at local forest districts and the Bureau of Forestry also maintains information county burn bans in effect.

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