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Pennsylvania DCNR Warns Anglers, Others of High Woodland Fire Danger

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's statewide trout season begins on April 12, prompting the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to urge anglers and other woodland visitors to take steps to prevent wildfires.

"We ask trout anglers and other visitors to be extremely careful because fire danger ranges from high to very high across much of the state," DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti said. "One act of carelessness could prove disastrous among tinder-dry conditions in some of our forests, where wildfire dangers climb with each day of sun and wind."

Open fires are forbidden on state forestland when the fire danger is listed as high, very high or extreme.

"Many large destructive wildfires occurred on Thursday across Pennsylvania, damaging buildings and hundreds of acres of forest land," said Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry Chief Forest Fire Warden Randy White. "We remind folks to be careful with campfires and take the proper precautions."

Precautions include:

  • Clear the area around the fire prior to starting it;
  • Keep the fire small and never leave it unattended;
  • Before you strike a campfire match, first consider if it is too warm, dry or windy for a fire and if the surrounding area is free of leaves and other combustibles;
  • Make sure there is a ready source of water nearby and a rake to extinguish any embers that might escape; and
  • When you are done with the fire put it out with water until all ashes are cold to the touch.

White cautioned that despite rain today in some areas, lack of green foliage in the spring, low humidity and sunny, windy days all increase chances of forest and brush fires spreading. Such fires are almost always traced to human carelessness, he said.

Nearly 10,000 acres of state forest are burned by wildfires each year, and nearly 85 percent of all fires in Pennsylvania woodlands occur during the months of March, April and May. Almost all of these fires threaten people and their homes, as well as trees and wildlife.

State forestry officials urge landowners to check with local municipalities to see if outdoor burning is allowed, and to avoid entirely or use extreme caution when burning trash and debris – one of the most common causes of wildfires.

County wide burn bans are currently in place in Montour and Schuylkill counties. 

Residents also are advised to create "safe zones" around homes and cabins by removing leaves and other debris from the ground and rain gutters, stack firewood away from structures and trim overhanging branches.

The Bureau of Forestry is responsible for the prevention and suppression of wildfires on Pennsylvania's 17 million acres of private and state-owned woodlands.

For more information on wildfire prevention, contact local district foresters; call the Bureau of Forestry at 717-787-2925; or visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us (select "Find a Forest" and then, "Wildfire").

Media contact: Christina Novak, 717-772-9101

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

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