On recommendation of District Forester Mark Deibler of Weiser Forest District, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Schuylkill County commissioners enacted a temporary outdoor burn ban throughout the county beginning at noon on Friday and will remain in place until noon on Sunday, May 5, in action taken at the work session held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.
Businesses may request an exemption to the burn ban. A letter of explanation detailing the adverse economic effects of the ban must be submitted to the Schuylkill Emergency Management Agency for review and consideration. There telephone number is (570) 622-3739.
The reason for the ban is because the county has been experiencing extended periods of low humidity, insufficient rainfall and high winds resulting in very dangerous fire conditions. The last countywide ban was in April 2012. Rainfall, forest and ground cover conditions are being evaluated continually by the forestry department and they may recommend an extension of the ban if conditions dictate.
Under the ban, residents are forbidden from any outdoor burning of items such as garbage, leaves, grass, twigs, litter, and paper. Grilling in proper containers is still permitted; however, the ban forbids lighting fires in outdoor burn barrels or fire rings.
Residents violating the ban face fines of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, and $300 for each additional offense. Violaters are also responsible for the cost of extinguishment of any wildland fire they cause; expenses may amount to thousands of dollars.
"Uncontrolled fires," Deibler claims, "which occur in brush and wooded areas put a tremendous strain on our firefighters, endanger watersheds, obstruct transportation corridors and pose a threat to commercial operations and residential areas. We are taking this action earlier in the season with hope of raising awareness within the community and limiting the danger of uncontrolled fires. We urge the public to adhere to these temporary restrictions in the interest of everyone's safety."