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Governor Corbett Declares March 16-22 Wildfire Prevention Week

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett has proclaimed March 16-22 as Wildfire Prevention Week in Pennsylvania, noting drying March winds and warming temperatures quickly can combine to increase fire dangers across Pennsylvania's forests and brush lands.

"Much of our state woodlands still may have snow cover but one only has to look back to last spring to see how quickly brush and forest fires can spring up when sun and wind prevail," Corbett said. "Most of the more than 630 reported fires last year are linked to people; people cause 98 percent of wildfires. A mere spark by a careless person can touch off a devastating forest blaze during dry periods when conditions enable wildfires to spread quickly."

"Common sense can limit the threat of wildfires and can 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," the governor said. "I ask all Pennsylvanians to join us that we can continue enjoying Pennsylvania's millions of acres of woodlands and brush lands, now and into the future."

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) statistics show nearly 85 percent of Pennsylvania's wildfires occur in March, April and May, before the greening of state woodlands and brushy areas. Named for rapid spread through dormant, dry vegetation, under windy conditions, wildfires annually scorch nearly 7,000 acres of state and private woodlands.

Anglers, campers and other state forest visitors are reminded 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.

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 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" under "Quick Links" then "Wildland Fire").

Media contact: Valerie Caras, Governor's Office, 717-783-1116
Terry Brady, DCNR, 717-772-9101

Editor's Note: The following is a copy of Governor Corbett's proclamation:

PENNSYLVANIA WILDFIRE PREVENTION WEEK
March 16-22, 2014

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 7,000 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 16-22, 2014, 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.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

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