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DCNR Warning Anglers, Others of High Woodland Fire Danger
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 04/18/2017

With the Pennsylvania's traditional statewide trout season opener this past weekend, and weather conditions that keep firefighters busy responding to wildfires across much of the state, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is urging anglers, property owners and others to take steps to prevent forest and brush fires.

"We ask trout anglers and other forest visitors to be extremely careful this weekend because fire danger is increasing rapidly amid sunny, warm days and little rainfall," said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. "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."

Anglers and campers are reminded open fires are forbidden on state forestland from March 1 through May 25, and when fire danger is listed as high, very high or extreme. A person who has caused a wildfire, in addition to possible criminal penalty, is liable for damages, costs of extinction and fines.

"We remind folks to be careful with campfires and backyard burning, and to take the proper precautions at all times," said Dunn. "One has to only look back on this week to see how fires spike quickly when the combination of sun, wind and lack of rain create tinder-like conditions. Just this week, despite a wet start, there were more than 60 fires that burned at least 600 acres."

Camper advice from DCNR includes:

- Clear the area around a campfire before starting;

- Keep fires small and never leave 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 (bucket or hose) 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.

Dunn noted that light rainfall in many areas, lack of green foliage in the spring, low humidity and sunny, windy days all combine to increase chances of forest and brush fires spreading. Such fires are almost always traced to human carelessness, she said.

Nearly 10,000 acres of state and private woodlands 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 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.

Residents are also 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 (Select "Forestry" and then "Wildland Fire" at left).

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