Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 6, 2013

New York facing increased fire risk

Niagara Gazette — There is a high fire risk in New York state due to prevailing dry weather conditions, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Friday. 

The DEC is reminding state residents who reside in smaller communities that brush burning is prohibited during the state’s high fire risk period, which runs from March 16 through May 14. 

“The weather over the next few days is predicted to stay sunny with low relative humidity which will dry out things even more,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said Friday. “The area will also experience an increase of user groups enjoying the outdoors this weekend with the advent of turkey season, start of prom season, and outdoor camping. Thus, it’s important to remember the burn ban that is in place.”

The state tightened restrictions on open burning in 2009 to reduce harmful air pollutants and to help prevent wildfires. The regulation allows for brush burning for most of the year in towns with a population of less than 20,000 — but prohibits open burning in the spring. 

“Since the open burning regulation passed in 2009, there are a fewer number of fires reported in New York state this time of year,” Martens said. “I urge everyone to be cautious since the risk of wildfires is greater this time of year and remind all New Yorkers that the statewide ban is in effect through mid-May.”

Several factors enable wildfires to start easily and spread quickly in the spring, including the lack of green vegetation, warm temperatures and wind. 

According to the DEC, open burning is the largest single cause of wildfires in the state. 

Violators of the open burning state regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense. To report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC or go to http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/67751.html. A list of questions and answers on the open burning regulation is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/58519.html.

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