Multiple brush fires amid burn ban sparks SusqCo Commissioners’ ire

A brush fire in Jessup Twp. scorched over 50 acres of land and brought in first responders from all around Susquehanna County, as well as Bradford and Wyoming counties. PHOTO COURTESY/JESSIE BLANEY

A brush fire in Jessup Twp. scorched over 50 acres of land and brought in first responders from all around Susquehanna County, as well as Bradford and Wyoming counties. PHOTO COURTESY/JESSIE BLANEY

Last week’s warm weather and dry air sparked Red Flag warnings noting an increased risk of wildfires in the county last week but those warnings went unheeded by some – despite the countywide burn ban that was still in effect – and drew the ire of the county commissioners at the Wednesday, April 12 meeting.

The commissioners reported that there had been 15  brush fires in the three days prior to the meeting – including one that scorched over 50 acres in Jessup Twp.

“Our (firefighters) are volunteers,” said Commissioner Elizabeth Arnold. “They are missing work, leaving jobs to go fight these fires for our community. It’s not fair to them.”

Commissioner Alan Hall said, “We’re going to get real serious about this. The cost of the fires in the last two weeks is… outrageous.”

He said the Jessup Twp. fire brought responders from Bradford and Wyoming counties, as well as all of Susquehanna County. Hall noted amount of money “that was extended to try to get this fire under control, plus the call for air drops.” He also said that a drone group was brought in from Bradford County to help firefighters “get a handle on (the fire).”

Hall said he spoke with the regional commander of the Pennsylvania State Police and said people will be cited.

“We’re going to approach the district attorney and judges and make sure people are fined appropriately to try to cover some of the costs these fire companies are putting out,” Hall said. “Every year we talk about the volunteers, and how these companies are struggling – you know, they have the chicken barbecues they do their chili cookoffs to raise money – they do not need to waste it because people won’t respect the rules and not burn. All these fires we re having is because people refuse to acknowledge the burn ban – they  are putting people’s lives in danger as well as costing a lot of money.”

Hall said the county is going to “do everything we can go after these people.”

During the countywide burn ban – which lapsed April 16 – the fine for a first offense is $100.

“We’re going to work on seeing what we can do to change that,” said Hall. “Because what it needs to be is whatever it cost the fire companies and members. That is what it should be and we will push for legislation to get that done.”

The commissioners approved the purchase of a communications shelter at the new proposed tower site in Silver Lake Twp., at a cost of $65,961 and paid with Act 13 funds.

Hall said the communication shelters typically cost over $100,000, but this barely used building was found at the lower cost. “It’s like brand new,” he said.

The following people were appointed to serve on the Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee:

Alan Wilmarth, through Dec. 31, 2026;

Blain Dibble, through Dec. 31, 2024;

Matt Button, through Dec. 31, 2024; and

Barbara Durkin through, Dec. 31, 2026

Appointments were also made to the Susquehanna County Tick Borne Diseases Task Force, effective through Dec. 31:

Commissioner Elizabeth Arnold, County Government;

Peter Baumann, Public Advocate;

Jacki Hart, Public Advocate;

Phyllis Konstas, Public Advocate; and

Barbara McNamara, Nurse Practitioner.

The commissioners approved an exoneration request from the Tax Claim Bureau for a parcel in Union Dale. The trailer has been removed from the property.

The commissioners approved a professional services agreement with MCM Consulting to update the risk analysis report  for the transport of hazardous materials in Susquehanna County at a total cost of $13,287.00, paid with LEPC funding, effective April 12 through Oct. 12.

The county also approved entering into an agreement between Lackawanna Susquehanna Behavioral Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention Program and Maxim Health for Chore, Companion Services, Homemaker Service, In-Home Support, Respite Care, and Shift Nursing, effective July 1,2022, through June 30; as well as an agreement for In-Home and Community Support/Companion Services, Respite Care, and Hospitalization Services.

The county approved the purchase of ADA accessible signage for the public rooms in the courthouse and county office building from FastSigns, Carbondale, at a cost of $15,217.95.

In personnel matters, the transfer of Levi Schmidt to Training/Operations Lieutenant at the county jail was approved, effective March 28, Second Commissioner

The commissioners also ratified and acknowledge the hiring of two people to part-time 2nd Deputy Prothonotory/Clerk of Courts positions, effective March 28.

The following proclamations were approved:

*April 23-29, as Crime Victim Rights Week in Susquehanna County.

*April 16-22, as Rural Roads Safety Week in Susquehanna County.


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