PIKE & WAYNE - A large brush fire reported in Blooming Grove Township Monday morning, April 21, served as a less than desired "Sign of Spring."

PIKE & WAYNE -  A large brush fire reported in Blooming Grove Township Monday morning, April 21, served as a less than desired "Sign of Spring."
    The blaze occurred in the vicinity of Atkinson Road and Egypt Road.
    Blooming Grove Volunteer Fire Department responded with a brush truck and two tankers was assisted by Tafton Fire Department with an engine, Hawley Fire Department with a brush truck, and two PA Bureau of Forestry fire-fighting vehicles. Tafton Ambulance was also on scene, and Fire Police from Tafton and Blooming Grove directed traffic.
   Several other volunteer fire companies were also called out, but were turned back when realized additional assistance would not be required, said Blooming Grove Chief Bob Drake.
    "A lady was burning brush and it got away on her," Drake said.
    Approximately three acres were burned, Drake estimated, although the burned areas were sporadic. No structures were endangered. A stone wall stopped it on one side, and the road on another.
   Drake commented that light rain isn't good enough to lessen the fire danger, as returning sunshine will dry out the old grass quickly. A good, soaking rain is needed.

••• Red Flag warning

      The National Weather Service Wednesday and Thursday issued a "Red Flag" warning for most of eastern Pennsylvania, signaling a "critical danger" for forest fires.
   According to the Weather Service, a Red Flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are in effect. "A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential," the Weather Service bulletin stated, Thursday,
   William D. Delling is the Fire Supervisor for the PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR)/ Bureau of Forestry at Delaware State Forest in Pike County. His duties also cover fires in private lands as well as public, bringing assistance to local fire companies.
   Delling urged the public NOT to burn at this time, until new spring foliage returns.
   He said that 90 percent of outdoor fires in Pennsylvania occur in the springtime rather than in the heat of summer. The Red Flag warning, he added, means fires will likely spread out of control.
   Forest and brush fires can be tough on local fire companies, he affirmed, calling volunteers away from their jobs and other responsibilities because of someone's careless burning. He stated that penalties can indeed follow. The Bureau of Forestry will issue a bill for the use of equipment and supplies, which could be hundreds and even thousands of dollars depending on the fire.
   Many local townships have burn ordinances in effect, placing conditions on how to safely burn trash or brush. Fines can be imposed and costs recovered for local fire companies.
   Delling said that there was no county-wide fire ban in effect, due to the "up and down" conditions this year. Bans must be in effect 30 days. Some private communities have restricted burning. Local municipalities can also choose to issue them.
   This year has been unique because of the lingering effects of a harsh winter. Normally, DCNR sees high fire danger days starting in early March.

••• Recent brush fires

    Other recent brush fires in Pike County included:
• Oaktree Lane & Longview Drive, Lehman Township, April 21 at 5:08 p.m.
• Fisher Lane & Quinn Terrace, Dingman Township, April 21 at  4:25 p.m.
• Cornelia Lane & Crocus Lane, Dingman Township, April 19 at 3:47 p.m.
• Decker Lane & Peach Court, Westfall Township, April 19 at 2 p.m.
• Route 434 & Long Pine Road, Lackawaxen Township, April 19 at 12:18 p.m. (multiple companies)
• Westcolang Road & Upper Lakeview Drive, Lackawaxen Township, April 18 at 1:32 p.m.
• North Cherry Lane, Palmyra Township, April 18 at 1:06 p.m.
   Wayne County has also been experiencing brush fires. Also on Monday, April 21, two brush fires were reported in the area of the Himalayan Institute in Dyberry Township north of Honesdale.