Burn bans are a tool used to protect life, property and our natural resources from wildfire. Ninety-eight percent of the wildfires in Pennsylvania are a direct result of people and place emergency responders directly in harms way. They also tie up emergency responders and apparatus that serve the community in the event of traffic accidents, house fires, and other emergencies.
State bans must be implemented by a Governor's proclamation. State bans prohibit smoking of tobacco in any form and building of camp fires or burning of brush and other debris within woodlands or within 200 feet of woodlands within any county of the Commonwealth. Fire danger must be very high in ¾ of the state, there have been 35 fires for 4 consecutive days, or the entire state is in class IV (very high fire danger) with no relief in sight. Statewide burn bans have only been implemented 7 times since 1952.
The danger of wildland fire in differnet habiats under different weather conditions is rated from low to extreme by the US Forest Service-Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS). Definitions of the rating classes are provided in a pdf document. The most recent observed conditions and a short term forecast are posted daily by the WFAS. Follow the links under the Wildfire Danger heading.