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Power To Save: Fighting Fire with Fire

HUGHESTOWN, Pa. — Using fire to help prevent larger forest fires has only been legal in Pennsylvania since 2009. Wildfires can cause significant damage wh...

HUGHESTOWN, Pa. -- Using fire to help prevent larger forest fires has only been legal in Pennsylvania since 2009.

Wildfires can cause significant damage when they get out of control. We talked to Joe Ulozas and Chris Layaou from the Pennsylvania DCNR about the use of prescribed fire as a way to help prevent them.

"Mostly in Pennsylvania, it's for fuel reduction or for silviculture treatment where you're trying to control weedy vegetation or promote certain tree growth," explained assistant district forester Joe Ulozas.

Ulozas and Layaou cover Pinchot State Forest.

Using prescribed fire doesn't happen overnight.

"The planning process probably takes a year and a half to two years before you actually put a match to the ground," said fire forester Chris Layaou.

It requires special equipment to target certain areas and keep the fire in a controlled environment.

"There are certain areas where invasive species have taken over, and you want that Oak to survive," Layaou said. "You have probably three people at a time carrying it in different patterns igniting the woods on fire. That's to do it in a timely manner but also to control it as well."

Much of the state forest in northeastern Pennsylvania is made up of Oak and Hickory trees.

"They have thicker bark and a deeper root system so they can withstand the fire activity," Ulozas explained.

That makes prescribed fire a useful tool to keep the state forests in Pennsylvania healthy.

"The ground responds very well to the fires under the right circumstances and controls," Layaou added.