NEW YORK (NEWS10/WETM) – Warm weather comes with drawbacks across the Twin Tiers and anywhere else with a lot of dense woodlands. This week, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is putting out a reminder to all those in state forests: No blazes in the brush.
A statewide ban prohibiting brush burning started on March 16, and will last through Sunday, May 14. Temperatures climbing up towards the 80s this week means an increased risk of fires breaking out.
Several local organizations are warning of higher risks for wildfires, as well. The National Weather Service out of Binghamton, Steuben County Emergency Services, and the Bradford County Department of Public Safety all issued warnings on April 11 that conditions are ripe for brush fires. This is made worse because of low humidity, westerly winds, and dry grass.
As of April 11, all but four counties in Pennsylvania were listed at high or very high risk for fires. A grass fire was also reported along the I-86 in Steuben County on April 10.
The DEC reports that open burning of debris causes most spring wildfires in the state, often caused by debris from the previous fall being left out in dry conditions. These conditions are primed in early spring, when a lack of green vegetation means not as many environmental factors to cushion the risk.
The DEC operates and updates a fire map, reporting risk levels in different parts of the state. As of Tuesday, parts of New York from Long Island up to the Hudson Valley and Albany Pine Bush are considered to be at “high” risk. The rest of the state, including the Adirondack Park, was listed as “moderate.”
If you’re camping, there are exceptions. Campfires and fire pits are allowed within three feet in height and four feet in length or diameter. Cooking fires are also permitted. In all cases, only charcoal or dry, untreated and unpainted wood can be burned. Fires should always be extinguished when no longer in use.
In the Adirondacks and Catskills, some “fire towns” prohibit burning throughout the entire year, unless the burner has a specific type of permit. The best way to learn more about your local burn laws is to reach out to your nearest DEC office and find out what you need to do to keep those pristine trees from falling to tragedy.