GATES, N.Y. (WROC) — While wildfires aren’t as common on the east coast, the risk is growing as we make the turn towards spring and warmer weather makes a return. The ban begins on March 16 and continues until May 14 according to Basil Seggos, the Commissioner of the NYSDEC.

“The open burning of debris is the leading cause of spring wildfires in New York,” said Commissioner Seggos. “[In] 2009 when we began instituting this burn ban, which dropped the prevalence of these spring fires by 40%.”

The burn ban specifically bans the burning of debris, such as yard trimmings, leaves, and garbage. According to Kalliopi Herouvis, the Community Risk Reduction Specialist for the Gates Fire District, the only fires that are allowed are recreational ones.

“The burn ban states that you can’t have anything outside of a small recreational fire said Herouvis. “A small recreational fire is a fire that is no more than 3ft tall and 4ft in diameter.”

In many towns around Rochester as well, including Gates, there are local regulations against burning anything outside of a recreational-sized fire any time of the year.

“Especially Gates, we have all year round there’s a ban from doing any sort of fires that involve burning leaves or burning brush from your yard,” said Herouvis.

Penalties and other repercussions vary from town to town for local regulations, but for the statewide burn ban violations will cost you

“[The] minimum fine for a first offense is $500,” said Commissioner Seggos

Even if you are burning within the regulations before you leave make sure the fire is out completely to avoid any unnecessary risk of starting any errant fires.

“Make sure that there are no coals left or embers to possibly blow in the wind towards your home or someone else’s home and set something else on fire,” said Herouvis.