Pennsylvania Fire Season

Fire in the Wayne National Forest, March 2009 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Spring is fire season in Pennsylvania. 85% of our wildfires occur in March, April and May.

There’s no drought in Pennsylvania right now, nor in most of the U.S. — as shown on the map below.

US Drought Monitor for 28 March 2019

But you don’t need drought to have a fire. All you need are dry conditions, fuel, and a spark. In Pennsylvania we have all three in the spring: low humidity, gusty winds, and lots of old leaf litter drying out in the sun. The spark comes from people.

98% of Pennsylvania’s wildfires are caused by people and most of those are caused by people burning debris. On a sunny windy day those fires blow onto dry grass and escape to the wild. In April 2016 more than 10,000 acres burned in Pennsylvania.

Yesterday the fire danger was high in our state because the weather was so nice — warm and sunny with gusty winds. Across Pennsylvania people were out doing yard work. Some were probably burning piles of debris. I haven’t heard if there were any fires. (The fire danger is lower today, 4 April 2019, because the weather changed.)

U.S. Forest Service Wildfire Danger Forecast

If you live in a place that allows outdoor trash burning be careful out there! Spring is Pennsylvania fire season.

(photo of fire from Wikimedia Commons (actually a prescribed burn). Maps from US Drought Monitor and U.S. Forest Service Wildfire Danger Forecast; Click on the captions to see the originals)

Note: Allegheny County does not allow outdoor trash burning.

2 thoughts on “Pennsylvania Fire Season

  1. A couple weeks ago, a guy I know who is a friend of a friend and who lives near New Castle burnt some trash and later said the fire was hard to put out. Then he drove down to visit my friend near Freeport (and left his cell phone in the car – mistake). When he got home at midnight he found out that the fire had blown over and burned down his house! And his family couldn’t reach him during the fire because he didn’t have his cell phone. Good news is he found $73 that didn’t burn up.

  2. There was a brush fire in Fayette county that burned a hundred acres from what I remember hearing on the news last night.

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