EBENSBURG — A forester from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources returned today to the Shearer Road area in Conemaugh Township, where volunteers from six area fire departments battled a brush fire that scorched several acres of rolling hills of timbered land Wednesday afternoon.
The regional Bureau of Forestry office took over the search for the cause of the fire after the Saltsburg, Tunnelton-Conemaugh Township, Coal Run/McIntyre, Bell Township, Slickville and Elderton fire companies snuffed the flames. Lifestat Ambulance paramedics were sent as a precaution, and the Iselin/West Lebanon fire department served a standby assignment in Tunnelton.
There were no reports of injuries and no indications of property damage in the early account of the fire, according to District Manager Bob Wetzel. The Ebensburg office represents DCNR and monitors environmental conditions in Indiana, Cambria and Blair counties.
Wetzel said the fire signals the risk of outdoor blazes, although the calendar says winter and the weather has barely flirted with springlike warmth.
“Obviously we want to get the word out to people to be careful,” Wetzel said this morning. “If we can keep the accidental or mistaken fires to a minimum, that helps us.
“We need to start talking about the need to be safe. If you’re cleaning up your yards this spring, the leaves and twigs, be sure you do it in a good, safe manner. If people don’t know how to do it, they can reach out to this office or their local forest district and we can give them advice on how to safely burn yard waste – so we don’t have the accidental fires that take up a lot of our time.”
The Forestry Bureau office in Ebensburg is at (814) 472-1862.
“As the Forestry Bureau, our responsibility is to determine the cause and, if we find negligence or arson, to bring charges against anyone responsible for a fire,” Wetzel said. “We figure how it started and come up with the reports on that.”