Pennsylvania wildland firefighters had a busy weekend as large fires erupted across the region, including one on Blue Mountain – The Morning Call

Pennsylvania wildland firefighters are frequently called upon to help other states and federal agencies fight wildfires, but over the weekend they were busy at home.

Much of the state was expected to be at high wildfire risk, with weather showing dry and windy conditions throughout the weekend.

On Friday evening, flames broke out just after 7 p.m. in the Glen Summit development of Fairview Township, Luzerne County, according to WNEP.

The wind carried the fire away from any house or business, Fox56 reportedbut videos and photos shared on social media showed flames spreading across the region.

On Saturday, a fire broke out on Rich Hill Road in West Rockhill Township, Bucks County, and appeared to involve a large area near Quakertown.

On Sunday, firefighters battled a large brush fire on Blue Mountain in Lehigh Township.

Crews worked for hours to extinguish the blaze near Lehigh Drive and Mountain Road. At one point, a helicopter dropped water on the fire.

Multiple departments in at least two counties, Lehigh and Carbon, responded.

“PMFD is currently assisting several agencies on Blue Mountain with our ATV unit,” a message from the Palmer Municipal Fire Department said on Facebook.

“A reminder to our residents, our county is in a high risk RED zone for bushfires. Please avoid fire pits, keep your mulch beds saturated, and always remember that open burning is PROHIBITED in the township.

The response from other local fire departments, as well as the DCNR Forestry Bureau, was ultimately aided by Mother Nature as rain rolled into the area on Sunday evening.

The fires broke out days before Community Wildfire Preparedness Day, a national campaign that encourages people and organizations meet on the first Saturday in May take steps to raise awareness and reduce the risk of forest fires.

Scenes of scorching brush and mountains consumed by wildfires are becoming more common throughout Pennsylvania. As a result, firefighters have “a more nuanced understanding of wildfires,” Michael D. Kern, state wildland fire chief, written in a spring newsletter of the DCNR.

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In 2021, there were 1,371 wildfires in Pennsylvania that consumed 2,981 acres. Of these events, 746 were caused by burning debris, which may include someone burning rubbish or yard waste. These fires frequently start in someone’s garden and spread through grass and leaf litter to nearby forests.

When a fire breaks out anywhere in the state, first responders are made up of local fire departments, including volunteers in rural areas working in conjunction with wildland fire rangers. As these groups lead the fight against wildfires, they point to census figures that show more people moving from suburban to rural areas to settle near or in the forest.

Firefighters call the area where homes and development meet or mingle with undeveloped forests the “wilderness-urban interface” and say more than half of all wildfires in the state occur in these areas. areas.

Later this month, the Pennsylvania Wildland Fire Academy will return after a two-year hiatus, the 2022 academy focusing on wild engine operations. It will consist of fifteen courses, ranging from basic to advanced level, and will include both classroom and on-the-job training.

The academy will take place at Shippensburg University from May 31 to June 5. All classes are designed to meet national standards and there are no tuition fees. All meals and accommodation are provided on site through the Forestry Bureau.

According to the DCNR, basic wildland firefighters must take four courses totaling 46 hours, as well as an eight-hour refresher course each year.

Morning Call editor Stephanie Sigafoos can be reached at 610-820-6612 or

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