Thursday, April 12, 2012

Protecting Your Home and Camp Against Wildfire

Although there has been some considerable snow in the High Peaks this week, and rain, sleet, and snow across the North-Central and Northern Adirondacks, the fire danger remains elevated. Continued abnormally dry conditions and drier weather this weekend could raise the fire danger from MODERATE to HIGH. More than 20 wildfires have been reported so far this year in the Adirondack region, including 17 in DEC Region 5, which have burned nearly 60 acres.

Seven of those fires were started by burning debris (four occurred after the burn ban was instituted on March 15, including one fire that burned 32 acres), four fires were caused by campfires, including one of two fires on Hackensack Mountain in Warrensburg. One fire burned nearly a mile along the Northway just below Pottersville. From 2000 to 2009 New York’s fire departments responded to an average of 2,300 wildfires each year from March 14 to May 16. About 46 percent of all wildfires occurred in that high fire danger period when open debris burning is banned.

Home and camp owners in the Adirondacks should take precautions to protect their properties from being damaged or destroyed in a wildfire. according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Ranger service: “Over the years, many people who enjoy the remoteness and scenic beauty of New York’s rural settings have built primary residences or seasonal homes adjacent to or in areas susceptible to wildland fires. Homes and other buildings in these areas are referred to as the Wildland/Urban Interface. The wildland/urban interface refers to any location where human structures and woodlands or other open areas intermingle, allowing a wildland fire to reach beyond trees, brush, and other natural fuels to ignite homes and other structures.”

Home and camp owners can take steps to reduce the risk of damage from wildfires. When constructing, renovating, landscaping and maintaining the property, consider the following wildfire risk reduction strategies:

Home Construction & Maintenance

• Use non‑flammable materials for roof and exterior walls;

• Use fire retardant finishes on exterior wood;

• Use double‑paned or tempered glass in windows;

• Enclose eaves, fascias, soffits, and vents;

• Remove tree limbs from overhangs and attachments;

• Keep gutters and roofs clean of twigs, leaves, and pine needles.

Landscaping (within 30 feet of your home and camp and their porches and decks)

• Use fire resistant plants, landscaping materials, and accessories;

• Keep area clear of all dead vegetation and other flammable debris;

• Remove limbs on trees up to 10 ft. from ground;

• Maintain space between trees;

• Regularly mow, prune, and water lawns and gardens;

• Do NOT place propane tanks under porches or decks, or directly against your home; and

• Do NOT store firewood adjacent to your home April through September.

For additional information on protecting homes and camps from wildfires, visit

Photo above, a wildfire on the Northway just south of Pottersville in early April, 2012, courtesy Jonathan Sinopoli; Below, illustration showing current drought conditions courtesy US Drought Monitor. (Hat Tip)

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2 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    The things you should do as far as removing most vegetation close to your home is not allowed under many APA permit restrictions. In fact many permit requirements have you planting vegetation that “blocks” your property from view. It also is dangerous from a fire perspective.

  2. William C Magie Jr says:

    I saw many people burning and the local law enforcement is telling me that there is no burn ban law in effect but I am a firemen and I was told by two people my chief and the dispatch that is still in effect. Now I can send a copy of the map to the local PD and let them find out….. Thanks for the map….. It is coming in handy