This week the office of Joe Robach announced that New York State has extended the ban on residential brush burning until May 21 due to continued dry conditions across the state. Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in the state.
State officials have been working hand-in-hand with local firefighters to help contain a rash of wildfires that have broken out across New York in recent week. As dry weather conditions persist, the burning ban has been extended to better protect the health and well-being of New Yorkers who may find themselves and their property in harm’s way. The office of Joe Robach urges everyone to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves, their neighbors and the first responders.
The eastern, central, southern and far northern regions of the state are rated as having a high risk of fire danger, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. The Southern Tier, Lake Ontario, and Adirondack regions are rated as having a moderate risk of fire danger. Additionally, the red flag warning is a short-term, temporary warning, indicating the presence of a dangerous combination of temperature, wind, relative humidity, fuel or drought conditions which can contribute to new fires or rapid spread of existing fires. This year, 110 fires have burned nearly 3,600 acres.
Joe Robach noted that while all wildfires in New York are now contained, numerous state offices have deployed resources over the past two weeks to help battle wildfires in the eastern New York.
Since 2009, New York State has enforced a residential brush burning ban for towns with less than 20,000 residents from March 16 through May 14, the period when most wildfires occur. Some towns, primarily in and around the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park, are designated “fire towns,” and open burning is prohibited year-round in these municipalities unless an individual or group has a written permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Burning garbage is prohibited year-round. Violators of the open burning regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense.
Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed except in the Catskill Forest Preserve. All campfires in the Catskill Forest Preserve continue to be banned through May 21 due to the continued high fire danger as a result of the dry weather conditions. Campfires should never be left unattended and must be extinguished.
Since the ban was enacted, the average number of spring fires per year has decreased from 3,297 to 1,425 or 43.2 percent. To view an updated map of fire danger ratings in New York, Joe Robach office suggests residents visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/68329.html.