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Reason for worries over wildfires

Wildfires that broke out Thursday illustrate just how dangerous it can be to start fires during a hot, dry spring.

Set aside the fact that wildfire could end up being positive for the 100 acres of land that burned last week and consider the fact that the unexpected 100-acre fire was one of two 100-acre fires burning in Warren County at the same time. It wasn’t safe to send firefighters into the Watson Township fire area because of the wind, structures inside the burn area were threatened but not burned and some people weren’t going to be able to get into their homes.

Wildfires can be beneficial, but only if they can be set safely and contained to areas where forest officials want them. What happened last week is different than the publicly proposed Allegheny National Forest plan to light fires on up to 2,000 acres. ANF officials want to use the fire to give oak seedlings an advantage over other hardwood tree species that are less fire tolerant. In such a situation, firefighters and forest officials have prepared the area for the burn and area ready with safety precautions.

Fires that start because of someone burning trash or yard waste on a hot, dry and windy day set the stage for what we saw Thursday — firefighters busy in two areas of the county in conditions not well suited for fighting wildfires.

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