Tioga County is in a drought, prompting commissioners to enact a burning advisory.
The board approved the Open Burning Advisory at the Oct. 13 meeting in partnership with the Tioga County Firemen’s Association, Tioga County Department of Emergency Services and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The county has received eight inches less than normal rainfall for 2020, said DCNR Wildfire Specialist Brian Plume. The lack of rainfall, combined with the falling leaves, creates conditions that are conducive to wildfire.
Looking at long-range forecasts from the Geographic Area Coordination Centers, the lack of precipitation will continue through the end of the year, Plume said.
Both Plume and commissioners were disinclined to enact a burning ban due to the restrictions involved. Instead, the advisory recommends that residents and visitors not engage in open/outdoor burning, provides tips for having campfires and outlines penalties for causing a forest fire within the commonwealth.
The four entities all advise residents and visitors to refrain from burning trash, leaves and debris whether it is in a burn barrel, fire ring or on the ground, said Plume. Propane and gas stoves, grills and tobacco use is not considered open burning.
If lighting a campfire, users should use a metal fire ring. If building a campfire in the Tioga State Forest, visitors must use designated metal fire rings at Asaph, Tiadaghton, Hoffman and County Bridge campgrounds and fires must be extinguished when leaving campsite, Plume said.
Plume advises campfire buildings to clear vegetation from the ring, have ample water handy along with a shovel to throw soil on the fire if it gets out of control. Before leaving camp, campfires should be drowned with water until all contents are wet and out.
Any person who causes a forest fire in Pennsylvania can be held liable for all expenses incurred to put it out, including time and equipment expense of local and state agencies, including aircraft costs. Damage to private property could leave the person liable for criminal charges or civil expenses.