Despite Recent Rain, Very Dry Conditions Can Appear Almost Overnight
HARRISBURG, Pa., March 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor 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").
Terry Brady, DCNR; 717-772-9101
Eric Shirk, Governor's Office; 717-783-1116
Editor's Note: The following is the text of Governor Corbett's proclamation designating March 13-19 as Wildfire Prevention Week:
PENNSYLVANIA WILDFIRE PREVENTION WEEK – March 13-19, 2011
WHEREAS, Pennsylvania's bountiful woodlands and brush lands enrich the lives of both residents and visitors alike on a daily basis, providing irreplaceable habitat for countless flora and fauna species, a sustainable resource of timber and clean water, scenic recreational opportunities; and
WHEREAS, though both are sustainable resources, woodlands and brush lands quickly can be devastated by acts of carelessness. People are responsible for 98 percent of all wildfires, nearly 85 percent of which occur in March, April, and May prior to greening of our woodlands and brush lands; and
WHEREAS, wildfires annually devastate nearly 10,000 acres of state forest and even more private land; and threaten life, property, and the sustainability of our valuable natural resources; and
WHEREAS, wildfire prevention hinges heavily on public understanding and appreciation of these values. Precautions and vigilance must be everyone's personal charge, so that we can continue enjoying Pennsylvania's millions of acres of woodlands and brush lands, now and into the future. 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; and
WHEREAS, these commonsense guidelines aid the brave men and women who serve as volunteer forest firefighters of our community volunteer fire companies and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
THEREFORE, in recognition of the importance of protecting our woodlands, brush lands, life, property, and our natural resources, I, Tom Corbett, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby proclaim March 13-19, 2011, as WILDFIRE PREVENTION WEEK in Pennsylvania. I urge all Pennsylvanians and visitors to protect our valuable woodlands and brush lands by being meticulously cautious with the use of fire.
Given under my hand and the Seal of the Governor, at the City of Harrisburg, on this third day of March in the year of our Lord, two thousand and eleven, and of the Commonwealth, the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
Tom Corbett, Governor
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources