Theft of trailer in Tioga County unfounded…stolen gun in Elk County recovered…statutory rape investigated in McKean County….Officials warn of wildfire dangers….
Turns out a Tioga County theft was unfounded. State police at Mansfield were called to investigate a theft of a trailer from Costy’s Energy Services between March 1 and April 4 on South Main Street in Richmond Township. Police were notified Wednesday that the trailer, after being entered into NCIC, was located on one of the well pads Costy’s services and had not been stolen but had been left at a job site.
A report of a stolen firearm in Elk County also turns out to be unfounded. Troopers at Ridgway investigated the theft of a Heritage Arms six shooter .22 caliber revolver belonging to a 39 year old Weedville woman. The gun was immediately recovered by the victim and the investigation has been closed.
Troopers at Lewis Run are continuing to investigate a statutory rape but no further details were released.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is urging Pennsylvanians be mindful of high woodland fire danger as seasonal wildfire risk increases. “Dry conditions across the Commonwealth have led to elevated risks for fires to spread this year, according to officials. A simple act of carelessness when lighting a camp or bonfire could prove disastrous among tinder-dry conditions in some of our forests. Wildfire dangers climb with each day of sun and wind and Pennsylvanians are urged to be cautious when lighting fires during these conditions.
The greatest danger of wildfires in Pennsylvania occurs during the spring months of March, April, and May, and the autumn months of October and November. In Pennsylvania, 99 percent of all wildfires are caused by people.
Certain conditions are necessary for a wildfire to occur:
An available fuel source, such as dried grass or leaves
Dry conditions, including low relative humidity
An ignition source — some way for the fire to start
Thousands of acres of state and private woodlands are burned by wildfires each year. Debris burning, equipment use, power lines, and campfires are some of the most common causes of wildfires in Pennsylvania. Light rainfall in many areas, lack of green foliage in the spring, low humidity and sunny, and windy days all combine to increase chances of forest and brush fires spreading. Such fires are almost always traced to human carelessness.
There has a been an increase in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones near the scenes of wildfires.
These aircraft have specific guidelines (PDF) that must be adhered to when flying over public lands, including that they must fly below 400 feet, remain clear of surrounding obstacles, and not fly in areas that have Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR), such as wildfires.
DCNR encourages those starting a fire at home or at a campsite to make sure there are no combustible items within 10 feet of the fire.
Additionally, it is recommended to have a rake or shovel along with water to properly suppress the embers of a fire.
Finally, officials recommend checking DCNR’s website to see if there is an elevated fire risk.
Other advice for preventing wildfires from DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry includes:
Clear the area around the fire prior to starting it;
Keep the fire small and never leave it unattended;
Before you strike a campfire match, first consider if it is too warm, dry or windy for a fire and if the surrounding area is free of leaves and other combustibles;
Make sure there is a ready source of water (bucket or hose) nearby and a rake to extinguish any embers that might escape; and
When you are done with the fire put it out with water until all ashes are cold to the touch.
Residents are also advised to create “safe zones” around homes and cabins by removing leaves and other debris from the ground and rain gutters, stacking firewood away from structures and trimming overhanging branches.
Wildfire prevention is a message brought to people across the country by the well-known figure, Smokey Bear.
Detailed information about wildfire prevention as well as materials for kids and educators is on the Smokey Bear website.