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Spring wildfire season starts this month: Here’s how you can prevent wildfires

Warm, dry and breezy days can all lead to poor burning conditions during the spring.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — As temperatures warm and days grow longer, the risk for wildfires increases. In Pennsylvania, spring wildfire season runs through the months of March, April and May. 

Mike Kern, chief of the division of forest fire protection at Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), says this time of year features mostly bare vegetation and gusty winds, a combination that can cause big problems.

“Anything of that dry, dormant vegetation—when it gets dry and windy...it’s basically more available to burn," said Kern. "It’s easier to start on fire. It combusts better."

A lack of rainfall can also lead to increased fire danger.

“Anytime it’s dry and windy, it’s a higher risk for fires,” Kern explained. “And when you start to go three, four [or] five days without rain in the spring here, we start to pick up a lot more wildfires.”

The cause of the vast majority of wildfires? Humans. 

“They’re either burning on the wrong day or they don’t...clear the vegetation around from where...[they're] burning or something like that," said Kern. "The wind can blow an ember a surprising distance in the spring, and if it lands in anything else that’s combustible it can start a wildfire."

If you are going to start a fire at home or at a campsite during this time of year, make sure anything combustible within 10 feet has been cleared. Other best practices include having a rake or shovel on hand along with water to properly clean up the area when you’re done.

Kern also advises checking in on the DCNR website before you burn to see if there is an elevated fire risk.

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