Canada — With warming temperatures and spring winds increasing fire dangers across Pennsylvania, Governor Edward G. Rendell has proclaimed March 14-20 as Wildfire Prevention Week and urged residents to be extra vigilant.
Nearly 85 percent of Pennsylvania’s wildfires occur in March, April and May before the greening of state woodlands and brush lands.
“Although March weather can be very wet, it can also be very windy – and those winds can quickly create tinderbox conditions in our wooded areas,” said Governor Rendell. “People are the cause of 98 percent of all wildfires. A mere spark by a careless person can touch off a devastating forest blaze.”
“When people are careless with smoking materials or open burning, volunteer firefighters often must risk their lives to battle the resulting wildfires,” he added. “Using a little common sense can significantly help to protect lives and property.”
Wildfires annually scorch nearly 10,000 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 outlined by the Pennsylvania Firewise Community Program.
DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry is responsible for preventing and suppressing wildfires on the state’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 techniques.
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”).
Editor’s Note: The text of Governor Rendell’s proclamation follows:
Pennsylvania Wildfire Prevention Week – March 14-20, 2010
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, Edward G. Rendell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby proclaim March 14-20, 2010 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 eighth day of March in the year of our Lord, two thousand and ten, and of the Commonwealth, the two hundred and thirty-fourth.