Conditions Favorable for Wildfires

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POCONO TOWNSHIP -- Dry, windy conditions have fire officials concerned about the possibility of wildfires in our area.

High above the ground in a fire tower at Big Pocono State Park, you'll find a man whose job is to keep an eye to the horizon.

On a day with red flag warnings all throughout the area, Gary Stroup is busy looking for brush fires and wildfires in the Poconos.

"You could imagine what's going to happen if you would have a little bit of a fire on a day like this. You would have a catastrophe in a very short time," Stroup said.

The fire tower in Pocono Township is one of the five oldest fire towers in the nation that is still being used.

From 35 feet above, you can see as far as New York and New Jersey. Gary's job is overseeing the 84,000 acres in Pike and Monroe counties.

"They'll take my readings and map it all their maps and pinpoint the fire and send the fire trucks to the scene of the fire," Stroup said.

Within the past week, there have been more than a dozen brush fires and wildfires in Pike and Monroe counties.

Timothy Dugan, the district forester in the Poconos, says one reason why it's so dry is the lack of snow this winter.

"Because we didn't have that snow pack over the winter, the leaves are very fluffy and they're able to get a lot of air and oxygen moving through them so it won't take much for them to light up quickly and spread aggressively," Dugan said.

The red flag warning continues through 8 p.m. and Dugan said once it expires conditions will still be favorable for brush fires and wildfires until the area gets some rain.

"What we do need is some extended rain in just some time. So people should not be out burning. They should be very careful and wait until the forest has greened up and everything beyond your lawn is green," he said.


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