Wildfire plan moves forward

Officials in Warren and Forest counties are forging ahead on the state’s first wildfire protection plan.

The first stage of the project is nearing completion.

“(We’ve) just about wrapped up the mapping side of the project,” County Planner Dan Glotz told the Council of Governments last Wednesday evening. “The Allegheny National Forest stepped up and volunteered to put the mapping together for us.”

The plan is a preventive step, not mandated by the state or federal government, in an attempt to have procedures in place to limit the loss of property in the event of a wildfire.

The next step in the process will entail gathering information from each of the fire departments in the two-county area.

To do that, DVDs of a presentation have been prepared for each department. “They will get a map and DVD and forms that go along with that,” Glotz said. “The nice thing about the DVD is that the entire department is able to sit down and watch the whole thing.”

While this part of the country is not known for widespread wildfires, under the right combination of dry conditions, trees killed by insects or disease, and large areas of evergreen trees, such a wildfire is a possibility. Last April, a wildfire in the Dutchman Run area of Mead Township burned 34 acres and approached some homes and other private properties.

“We want to inventory areas that are at risk and develop some mitigation activities,” Glotz said earlier this year. “The presence of structures in areas where development and nature meet presents a unique danger to any unprepared resident or firefighter that has to respond to a wildland fire in the area.”

Glotz said on Wednesday that he is hopeful the project will be concluded by this summer.