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New Fire Tower in Place in Carbon County

PENN FOREST TOWNSHIP -- A new fire tower in Carbon County has been lifted into place.

The Mauch Chunk Tower is on Bear Mountain near Jim Thorpe.

It will be used by forest lookouts including Chuck Helms.

"I sit up there and look for smoke. If I see anything, I tell what direction it is and how far away it is. If it's a fire they will go and put it out," said Chuck Helms, forest fire lookout.

Pennsylvania is spending more than $4 million to replace 16 fire towers throughout the state.

This new fire tower stands more than 80-feet high and is made out of metal.  It also comes equipped with security cameras.

"It's really amazing in this day of cell phones and satellite you think, 'why do we need fire towers?' Someone in a fire tower, like our fire person Chuck, who has 25-plus years' experience with a pair of binoculars can read smoke. Smoke tells a story. There's a big difference between a wildfire and just something burning. Folks who have experience like Chuck, know this," said Wesley Keller, forest fire specialist.

Instead of tossing the old fire tower, the plan is to spruce it up and put it out front to use as an educational tool.

Once the old tower is fixed, you'll be able to see it outside of the DCNR building on Route 903 in Penn Forest Township.

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