BRADFORD COUNTY, PA (WETM) – As Twin Tier residents prepare for warmer and drier weather, they will also need to be aware of an old enemy – wildfires.

On March 16, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued a burn ban in response to the changing seasons. The New York DEC says that open burning of debris is the single largest cause of spring wildfires in New York State. The burn ban lasts until May 14.

Spring wildfires can easily spread through strong winds and a lack of green vegetation. Small cooking fires and campfires are exempt from the ban, as long as these fires are not left unattended and fully extinguished when done being used.

Earlier today, the National Weather Service in Binghamton has issued a special weather statement warning residents about the potential for wildfire dangers across southeastern New York State and portions of northeastern Pennsylvania. The statement includes relative humidity dropping to 15 to 25 percent, which results in drier conditions, and winds gusting to 15 to 30 miles per hour with the highest winds near the Catskills. The higher the wind speed, the farther the wildfires can spread.

Bradford County in Pennsylvania has also placed a burn ban at around the start of the spring season in response to the conditions suitable for producing wildfires. According to the graphic below, Bradford County is one of the counties in the Twin Tiers with a high risk rating for wildfire danger – forecasted earlier by the Bradford County Department of Public Safety. The department highly discourages outdoor burning under these conditions.

Forecast Fire Danger graphic issued for the entire state of Pennsylvania on March 22, 2022. Photo credit: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“Those who start wildfires can be fined,” said David Walter, Assistant Chief for the Athens Fire Department. “They could be charged with a cost in damages. And if somebody dies, they could be charged with manslaughter.”

Residents may need to think twice before grilling and burning campfires now, but the dangerous conditions will very likely settle later this week. A chance for rain showers and lower temperatures returns to the Twin Tiers by Wednesday.