A lack of rain locally and across Pennsylvania in recent weeks, coupled with drying leaves accumulating as potential fuel, has state foresters worried about the possibility of wildfires.
Open burning is banned in all state forests annually from Oct. 1 to Dec. 1. And as a sign outside the Sanatoga Fire Company regularly attests, there is “no burning allowed in Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township.”
“With rainfall in recent weeks spotty at best, a dry windy span of just a few days can quickly make forest wildfires a very real threat,” state Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis said Tuesday (Oct. 14, 2008). Critical conditions, he added, can develop almost overnight.
DiBerardinis oversees the Bureau of Forestry, which is working through state agencies and local fire companies to educate Pennsylvanians about wildfire prevention. More than 95 percent of wildfires in the Keystone State are ignited by people, not nature. Hanging in the balance are 17 million acres of state forest land, the closest of which to Sanatoga is William Penn State Forest in Elverson.