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6 Westmoreland departments get grants for wildland fire suppression

Renatta Signorini
| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, 8:27 a.m.
An April 2016 wildfire charred 30 acres on Laurel Mountain in Ligonier Township.
An April 2016 wildfire charred 30 acres on Laurel Mountain in Ligonier Township.

Six fire departments across Westmoreland County received state grants to help rural communities fight wildland fires.

The money can be used by small departments to buy equipment or for training related to wildfire suppression, according to a news release. Wildland fires are most common in the spring and fall. They require a different attack because of terrain and water availability.

The local departments awarded grants are:

• Chestnut Ridge, Cook Township: $8,081

• Claridge, Penn Township: $2,331

• Crabtree, Salem Township: $924

• Export: $7,279

• Manor: $3,387

• Turkeytown, South Huntingdon: $1,126

Across the state, $646,891 was awarded to 123 fire companies which would respond to wildfires in state forests or other rural areas. The grant program through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is funded through money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Nearly all wildfires are caused by people and are preventable, the state reports.

Pennsylvania last year saw 534 wildfires that burned 1,650 acres total, according to an annual state report. Five people were injured, but no one died.

Burning debris by far — 279 — was the leading cause of wildfires in Pennsylvania in 2017, the state reported. Fireworks caused four wildfires, and lightning two.

On average, Pennsylvania experienced 650 wildfires a year that burned 4,500 acres over the past decade.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, or via Twitter @byrenatta.

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