There are a few questions that seem to come up consistently when people ask me about my research. So here are the answers as I understand them or supported by data that I have relating to forest fires in Pennsylvania.
Most Fires in a Year – 1930 – 6,790 fires reported to the Bureau of Forestry.
Most Acres Burned in a Year – 1913 – 386,267 acres. There were probably more acres burned during some years, and in fact a couple of years may have exceeded 1 Million acres burned, but there are no records to support that.
The year that had the Largest Average Fire was also 1913 when the average size was 412.2 acres per fire.
District With the Most Fires from 1979 to 2015 was District 18 – The Weiser State Forest District which had 5,285 fires.
District With the Most Acres Burned from 1979 to 2015 was District 20, the Loyalsock District where 28,324 acres were covered by flames.
The District With the Highest Fire/Acre from 1979 to 2015 is District 10 – The Sproul State Forest District – where an average fire during that time was 33.5 acres.
The most expensive year to extinguish wild fires was 1999 when $1,175,580 was spent to extinguish 1,406 fires on 8,424 acres.
The highest cost per acre happened in 2007 when it cost $263.13 per acre to fight fire.
Largest Fire in the Allegheny National Forest began on May 14, 1926 – Owls Nest – Loleta – Sackett Complex, Elk, McKean, Forest Counties – 31,500 acres.
Largest Fire in PDF&W History – May 7, 1934, 39,900 acres burned between Snow Shoe and Renovo in Centre and Clinton counties. This is also believed to be the largest fire on state forest land.
Largest Fire in DER History – April 28, 1990 – Two Rock Fire between Snow Shoe and Renovo in Centre and Clinton counties. It burned 9,656 acres, located on some of the same land as the one above.
Largest Fire in DCNR History – April 20, 2016 – Bear Town & Sixteen Mile Fires, Monroe & Pike Counties, 8,644 acres. This is also the largest wildfire in Pennsylvania in the 21st Century.
Largest Fire in Department of Forestry History – Further research is needed to determine this. Certainly the blazes in 1903 in Potter, Clinton and Lycoming Counties that destroyed Cross Fork, and other lumber towns and camps certainly has to be at the top. Watch for further details or comment if you have better information. One fire that stands out in the Department of Forestry records occurred in 1915. The fire burned from April 21 to 28, 1915 in Noyes, Chapman and Grugan Townships, in Clinton County. The cause of the fire is listed as “fishermen” and cost $239.68 to extinguish. It was listed as burning 4,400 acres of state land. The exact location of the fire is hard to determine. Anyone with information should contact me. Considering that anglers were blamed, it is likely the fire began in the Tangascootack Watershed