(WETM) – The hot and dry weather seen across much of the state recently is prompting officials to remind New Yorkers about the dangers of wildfires, especially when camping.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation issued a reminder on July 14, reminding those burning campfires and brush how easily wildfires can start and spread in dry weather this time of year.

The DEC said most of New York State is currently at a moderate risk for fires, and they can spread even faster when the wind picks up. For much of the state, campfires and burning debris are among the top five causes of wildfires, according to data from the DEC.

The agency provided the following tips to New Yorkers who are camping in the woods or burning wood and brush:

  • Use existing campfire rings where possible;
  • Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass, and leaves. Pile extra wood away from the fire;
  • Clear the area around the ring of leaves, twigs, and other flammable materials;
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze could cause the fire to spread quickly; and
  • Drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Move rocks as there may be burning embers underneath.
  • Never burn on a windy day;
  • Check and obey all local laws and ordinances;
  • Burn early in the morning when humidity is high and winds are low;
  • Clear all flammable material for a distance of 10 to 15 feet around the fire;
  • Keep piles to be burned small, adding small quantities of material as burning progresses;
  • Always have a garden hose, shovel, water bucket, or other means to extinguish the fire close at hand; and
  • When done, drown the fire with water, making sure all materials, embers, and coals are wet.

Do not burn household trash:

  • Burning trash is prohibited statewide in all cases. Incinerator rules prohibit burning household trash in wood stoves, fireplaces, and outdoor wood boilers;
  • DEC recommends recycling all appropriate materials (such as newspaper, paper, glass and plastic) and composting organic kitchen and garden waste;
  • Burning leaves also is banned in New York State. DEC encourages composting of leaves; and
  • Disposal of flags or religious items in a small-sized fire is allowed if it not otherwise prohibited by law or regulation.