Dry conditions, wind helping to fuel threat of brush fires

'People should not be burning right now'

LOWER ALSACE TWP., Pa. - Things are heating up for fire companies in Berks County, because the conditions are ripe for brush fires.

Dry conditions help fuel the fire, but officials said human error plays a huge role in sparking the brush fires.

Over the next couple days, crews are expected to be stationed at the William Penn Memorial Fire Tower in Lower Alsace Township to be on the lookout in case a fire pops up on Mount Penn.

When a brush fire is burning, it doesn't take long for fire crews to assemble. Just as fast, a small fire can grow into something massive.

"When they're out burning trash, how quick the fire can get away from them," said Capt. Wayne Steele, Friendship Fire Company.

Officials said an unattended camp fire sparked a brush fire near Birdsboro on Thursday. It's a similar story with a grass fire in the Geigertown area. A winter trash pile being burned scorched the grass and a garage.

"Had that garage been made out of wood material, it would have been a structure fire along with a brush fire," Steele said.

Steele said brush fires have a tendency to burn in areas that aren't easy to get to. When that happens, firefighters have to walk or use all-terrain vehicles.

"We pulled in there. We had a very difficult time getting to the fire because it was up in a rock base," he said.

No broad burn-bans are in effect, but a fire warning has been issued for most areas. A harsh winter knocked down a lot of branches. That, combined with dead grass and leaves, can make for a bad combination if a fire starts.

"If at all possible, people should not be burning right now," he said.

Fire officials said even if you see just a little smoke, call it in, and again, practice common sense.

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