Abnormally Dry Conditions through Most of Eastern New York
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today urged New Yorkers to practice the utmost safety when burning wood and brush outdoors during recent dry conditions. Although the State's prohibition on residential brush burning ended in May, fire danger still exists.
"Dry weather and warming temperatures have elevated the risk of fires statewide, particularly across eastern New York," Commissioner Seggos said. "The last widespread rainfall we saw was more than a full week ago and over the last month, some parts of the state are 90 percent below normal rainfall levels. I encourage New Yorkers to use safety precautions to help prevent wildfire outbreaks."
DEC updates the fire danger map and forecast during fire season on its website and on the NY Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App (also available on DEC's website). The majority of the state remains at moderate risk, which means outdoor fires can burn briskly and spread rapidly on windy days. Precipitation in eastern New York and western New England over the last 30 days ranged from 0.50 to 3.50 inches, which is 15 to 90 percent below normal.
Debris burning and campfires are among the top five causes of wildfires. While fireworks are not a significant cause of wildfires, they are a potential hazard. In most cases, fireworks are also illegal. Campfires with family are great fun, when done safely.
Fire safety tips for burning wood or brush:
- Never burn on a windy day;
- Check and obey all local laws and ordinances;
- Burn early in the morning when humidity is high and winds are low;
- Clear all flammable material for a distance of 10 to 15 feet around the fire;
- Keep piles to be burned small, adding small quantities of material as burning progresses;
- Always have a garden hose, shovel, water bucket, or other means to extinguish the fire close at hand; and
- When done, drown the fire with water, making sure all materials, embers, and coals are wet.
While camping in the backcountry, New Yorkers are advised to:
- Use existing campfire rings where possible;
- Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass, and leaves. Pile extra wood away from the fire;
- Clear the area around the ring of leaves, twigs, and other flammables materials;
- Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze could cause the fire to spread quickly; and
- Drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Move rocks as there may be burning embers underneath.
Do Not Burn Household Trash
- Burning trash is prohibited statewide in all cases. Incinerator rules prohibit burning household trash in wood stoves, fireplaces, and outdoor wood boilers;
- DEC recommends recycling all appropriate materials (such as newspaper, paper, glass and plastic) and composting organic kitchen and garden waste;
- Burning leaves also is banned in New York State. DEC encourages composting of leaves; and
- Disposal of flags or religious items in a small-sized fire is allowed if it not otherwise prohibited by law or regulation.
For information on open burning and campfire safety in New York, go to DEC's Open Burning in New York webpage and DEC's Fire Safety When Camping webpage.