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What starts wildfires? The state has some words of warning

Dry conditions can easily spark a fire and officials with the Pennsylvania DCNR are urging people to be careful.

MONROE COUNTY, Pa. — While many of us are soaking up the sun and nice spring weather, forestry officials are sending out a reminder.

Tim Dugan, a forester with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), says low humidity combined with gusty winds and drying fine fuels can create fire threats.

"We are in our spring wildfire season here for Pennsylvania. The weather lately has been dry, windy, and low relative humidity, and bright sunny days. All those lead up to conditions that can support aggressive wildfire behavior," said Dugan.

Dugan says it's important for people to be careful when handling any potential ignition source, including machinery, cigarettes, and matches, especially around dry grass and tree litter.

"It doesn't take much to start a fire this time of year. There's a lot of dry fuel on the ground throughout the forest, in people's backyards, or throughout residential areas and even wild areas. We are just looking for people to be careful this time of year. Don't do any burning, don't dump your ashes outside. Wait until there is wet weather or find a different alternative to dispose of anything that might be flammable or that can cause a fire starter," said Dugan.

If there is a fire, Dugan says the important thing is to alert emergency officials.

Just like any other fire, seconds and minutes count when it comes to brush and wildfires.

"It doesn't take long for a fire to scoot through the woods and get to a neighbor's house, car, or shed. A lot of times, what we do see when structures are lost, they are most often limited to sheds or garages because they are a little more separate from the house, but we get very concerned about it," said Dugan.

According to the DCNR, Pennsylvania faces its greatest danger of wildfires March through May before the forests get greener.