HARRISBURG, Pa., May 22, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Wolf today presented Governor's Awards for Excellence to 10 state Bureau of Forestry wildfire fighters for their role in combatting a forest blaze last spring that spread for 15 days, threatening lives and property on the Pike-Monroe county line.
"The employees being recognized today have gone above and beyond their job requirements to provide outstanding service and make government more responsive and effective," said Governor Wolf. "Their accomplishments are truly exemplary and inspiring. We are fortunate to have such outstanding public servants working for the people of Pennsylvania."
Praising all state employees for their dedication at today's ceremony, Governor Wolf presented awards to 37 employees representing 10 state agencies. The Bureau of Forestry is overseen by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
"These men and women honored here today are representative of the incredible group effort that went above and beyond to contain a wildfire that became very dangerous and very large in a matter of days," said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. "They filled key positions and worked long shifts over numerous days to extinguish what would become known as the 16 Mile Fire before any loss of life or significant property damage occurred."
Governor's Awards for Excellence recipients were:
Bureau of Forestry Forester DCNR Michael Becker, District Forest Manager John Hecker, Forester Gerald Hoy, Forest Maintenance Supervisor Marcus Kaiser, Forester Daniel Lecrone, retired Forester Robert Martynowych, foresters Joseph Miller and Chad Northcraft, Administrative Assistant Hope Reser, and Forest Maintenance Repairman James Stiteler.
The honorees volunteered to join firefighters from 16 states in a battle against two large wildfires in Monroe and Pike counties that eventually merged, scorching close to 9,000 acres and threatening more than 250 homes and businesses.
A Delaware State Forest cabin colony was evacuated and multiple state forest roads were closed during the fires, which burned two leased cabins, three seasonal homes, and six outbuildings.
Fighting the fire was complicated by rugged terrain, windy, dry weather, and dead trees left by former gypsy moth infestations.
The Bureau of Forestry continues to offer a $15,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions in what investigators say were two fires intentionally set. Labeled the 16 Mile and Beartown fires, the wildfires were discovered April 20, 2016, and burned through May 2 in Delaware State Forest.
Cost has been set at $2 million for the wildfires in which more than 100 bureau personnel rotated in and out of fire scenes. They were assisted by federal, state, and local emergency and other personnel, as well as a Smokey Bear Hotshot firefighting team from New Mexico.
Information that could lead to the reward can be forwarded to bureau Special Investigator Terry Smith, 717-362-1472; firstname.lastname@example.org; or by calling 570-895-4000. Anonymous tips also are being accepted but do not qualify for the reward.
DCNR's Bureau of Forestry is responsible for protecting Pennsylvania's 17 million acres of public and private woodlands from damage by wildfire. Visit DCNR's website for more information on wildfire prevention.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources