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Don’t start the fire: Brush fires banned through May 14

With dry weather conditions prevailing, New York state is now at a high danger of wildfires, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The NYSDEC reminded New York residents that all residential brush burning is prohibited, during the state’s high fire risk period, which is March 16 – May 14.

“Since the open burning regulation passed in 2009, there are a fewer number of fires reported, in New York state, this time of year,” DEC Commissioner Joe 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.

In 2009, New York state toughened restrictions on open burning, to reduce harmful air pollutants and help prevent wildfires. While the regulation allows residential brush burning, for most of the year, in towns with a population of less than 20,000, it prohibits open burning in all communities during early spring, when the bulk of New York’s wildfires typically occur. The new regulation prohibits the burning of garbage, at all times and places.

Several factors enable wildfires to start easily and spread quickly, at this time, including the lack of green vegetation, abundance of available fuels, such as dry grass and leaves, warm temperatures and wind.

Open burning is the largest, single cause of wildfires in New York state. Data from DEC’s Division of Forest Protection show that debris burning accounted for about 36 percent of wildfires in the state, 1985 – 2009, more than twice the next most-cited cause. In addition, from 2000 – 2009, New York’s fire departments responded to an average of 2,300 wildfires, each year, March 16 – May 14, or about 46 percent of all wildfires, for the year.

Fire department data for 2010, 2011 and 2012 indicated a 35 percent reduction in wildfires, during the burn ban period for those years, when compared to the previous 10 years. In addition, 80 percent of all New York state communities had a reduction of wildfires, compared to the previous 10 years.

To report environmental law violations call 1-800-847-7332, or go to www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/67751.html. For more information on the new open burning regulation, visit www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/58519.html.
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