DEC’s burn ban in effect until May 14

Posted 24 March 2020 at 9:28 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: Firefighters put out a brush fire in Murray on July 12, 2016.

Press Release, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

A state-wide residential brush burning ban started on March 16 and continues until May 14.

With the arrival of spring, the state Department of Environmental Conservation reminds residents that conditions for wildfires are heightened in springtime when most wildfires occur.

“While many associate wildfires with the western United States, the start of spring weather and the potential for dry conditions increase the risk for wildfires in New York,” said Basil Seggos, Dec commissioner. “To protect our communities and natural resources, New York prohibits residential burning during the high-risk fire season to reduce the potential for wildfires. The burn ban has effectively reduced the number of wildfires over the last decade, and we’re encouraging New Yorkers to put safety first.”

Warming temperatures can quickly cause wildfire conditions to arise. DEC will post a Fire Danger Map rating forecast daily for the 2020 fire season and the NY Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App, on DEC’s website. Currently, fire conditions in most of the state are low risk.

Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in New York State. When temperatures are warmer and the past fall’s debris and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation.

Every spring as the snow melts and vegetation dries out, New York’s partnering local responders all too often have to leave their jobs and families to respond to wildfires caused by illegal spring debris fires. DEC Forest Rangers respond to and assist local agencies with the larger and more remote fires. Complying with the burn ban prevents unnecessary burdens on and dangers to state resources and local responders.

New York first enacted strict restrictions on open burning in 2009 to help prevent wildfires and reduce air pollution. The regulations allow residential brush fires in towns with fewer than 20,000 residents during most of the year, but prohibit such burning in spring when most wildfires occur. Since the ban was established, the eight-year annual average number of spring fires decreased by 42.6 percent, from 2,649 in 2009, to 1,521 in 2018.

Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed, but people should never leave such fires unattended and must extinguish them. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round.

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