(WETM) — The annual statewide banning of open burn fires will begin on Wednesday, March 16 and will end on Saturday, May 14.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the ban Tuesday. “In an effort to protect our communities and natural resources, New York prohibits residential burning for two months starting on March 16, when dry conditions are highest.” Seggos said.

Even though the Southern Tier is currently blanketed in snow, the DEC says that warming temperatures can quickly cause wildfire conditions to arise.

The DEC lists exemptions for small cooking fires, bonfires and campfires on their website, as long as the fires are attended and fully extinguished.

Violators of the State’s open burning regulation are subject to criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense.