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Recipe for wildfires

Published March 30. 2013 09:02AM

Spring is a time the weather begins to change, the air begins to warm and spring breezes begin to dry the dead vegetation and other debris left from the previous fall and winter. Recent temperatures have been cold and regular precipitation events. However, this wintry weather will succumb to warmer temperatures and lower humidity. These conditions coupled with the breezy afternoons are a recipe for high wildfire potential.

Homeowners and others are anxious to tidy-up their lawns and properties for the coming summer season. Many people dispose of the debris that has accumulated during the winter by burning. They are unaware of the risks and property that their actions may have.

The period from late February to late May can be trying times for firefighters and other emergency management officials. In the spring when temperatures rise into the 50s, the humidity and dew point temperatures are low at times when debris and campfires can escape into the grass and woodlands very quickly. Even with a morning shower, grass, leaves and other fine fuels dry out within an hour on breezy sunny afternoons. Without regular rain larger fuels can dry within several hours.

Wildland firefighting is extremely strenuous and fatiguing. This causes stress on emergency management personnel and is a cause for concern for their safety when called to other emergencies such as accidents and structure fires.

More than 90 percent of wildfires are caused by humans and are preventable.

Individuals who cause a forest fire are responsible for the cost of extinguishing them.

The costs can run in the thousands of dollars. They may also be cited.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry and County Emergency Management Agencies are asking people to refrain from burning during this period of high fire danger.

In the past the County Commissioners, with the recommendation of local Fire Chiefs, and the support of the Weiser District Forester have imposed burn bans. Bans on debris burning are an attempt to reduce the number of wildland fires. Burn bans are an effective tool in reducing the number of uncontrolled fires. Burn bans are cumbersome to enact and a burden to some residents of the community. The DCNR, Bureau of Forestry is asking residents to use good judgment if they do burn their trash and other debris during this period of high fire danger.

Remember Smokey Bear says, "Only YOU can prevent forest fires.

Mark W. Deibler, district forester

Weiser Forest District

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