Dry conditions mean more brush fires for Valley fire departments

BESSEMER, Pa. (WYTV) – The sun has been shining bright, helping to fuel the dry conditions throughout the Valley.

How dry has it been? The last nine days have seen no measurable precipitation.

That’s helping brush fires spread easily, especially one that broke out Saturday in Bessemer.

“We really encourage people not to burn during the dry season, and to wait until the grass is a lot greener,” Bessemer Volunteer Fire Department Spokesman Lou Loughlin said.

Loughlin said the dry season usually runs from March until May, and again in August through November. Bessemer Borough does have an ordinance in place. But, Loughlin hopes the ordinance will be implemented more now.

“At the fire department, we’d like to see it enforced a little bit more. It’s our time and manpower spent there, when we can be doing other things in the community,” Loughlin said.

Jake Scheib, with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, says he is always monitoring the latest weather conditions. Wind is another element he looks at closely.

“The (relative humidity) is also important…how much moisture is in the air, if that’s low, that drives our fuel (moisture) out and our fires pick up in intensity,” Scheib said.

Loughlin said you should always be prepared when you’re going to burn in these conditions.

“If you’re thinking about burning, and you have to burn, we recommend you have a garden hose or a bucket of water on standby, and never leave a fire unattended until it’s completely out,” Loughlin said.


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