2009-03-26 / Front Page

Residents Should Avoid Outdoor Burning

County under red-flag warning
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

On their way home from a training session Saturday afternoon, officials with the Buchanan State Forest were detoured to 223 Davis Lane in Taylor Township to lend their knowledge and firefighting skills to extinguish a field fire endangering a nearby structure.

For local forestry officials, the fire was just one of approximately 14 they have responded to in their coverage area already this year. The number is outstanding and well above average as in 2008 forestry representatives only combatted 12 fires the entire year.

The cause of the fires are as diverse as their locations and range from equipment and downed trees on power lines to those suspicious in nature and debris burning, which is the number one cause of fires in the commonwealth. With significant rainfall needed to replenish the local water supply and ground moisture, district forester Jim Smith is strongly urging local residents to avoid outdoor burning if possible.

According to Smith, the county is already rain deficient by five inches since the start of the new year. Adding to the little rainfall are low relative humidity and strong winds that have, in turn, pushed Fulton County into what is known as a "red flag" area.

Smith told the "News" the county was under a red flag on Monday. With similar weather conditions forecasted for Tuesday, it was likely the red-flag designation would carry over for a second day.

While the Fulton County commissioners haven't placed the county under a burn ban, Smith stated anyone opting to burn rubbish at this time of the year should exhibit extreme caution. "My recommendation would be not to burn at all," added Smith. "Spring fire season is only now getting under way, but the potential for fire danger is high right now ... . You don't have to have warm weather to have a potential fire danger."

Smith said area fire companies have done an incredible amount of work to aid in extinguishing these area blazes. To date, approximately 50 acres have been affected by fires in the Buchanan State Forest coverage area.

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