Saturday, June 2, 2018

Tips To Avoid Starting Adirondack Wildfires

pottersville wildfireThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has advised that although the State’s ban on brush burning ended May 14, several open burning regulations are still in effect across New York State year-round. Residents are encouraged to use caution when burning brush and other legal materials.

It is illegal to burn garbage, leaves, and leaf piles in New York State year-round. Residents in “fire towns,” towns located within the Adirondack Park, must obtain a DEC permit to burn. Residents should always check with local authorities first to find out if local law requires a permit or prohibits open fires in their area.

All open burning is prohibited in New York with the following exceptions allowed:

  • Limbs, branches, and brush can be burned May 15 through March 15. Limbs must be less than six inches in diameter and eight feet in length;
  • Campfires less than three feet in height and four feet in length, width, or diameter;
  • Small cooking fires.
  • Cooking fires and campfires cannot be left unattended and must be fully extinguished, and only charcoal or clean, untreated or unpainted wood can be burned.
  • The burning of chemically treated wood such as pressure-treated lumber and plywood is prohibited; and
  • Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires, as well as small fires used to dispose of a flag or religious item.

DEC encourages residents to mulch or compost brush along with other yard waste. In rural areas brush piles can provide habitat for wildlife.

DEC recommends these fire safety tips when burning:

  • 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 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.

When planning any of fires allowed, residents are encouraged to check the DEC Fire Danger Map rating forecast daily for the 2018 fire season.

According to DEC, Forest Rangers assisted fire departments to extinguish 43 wildfires during the ban period March 16 through May 14, 2018. These fires burned a total of 88 acres, and 12 of them (28 percent) were caused by a debris fire growing out of control. In 2009, the year before the ban was instituted, DEC Forest Rangers extinguished 61 fires (46 percent of all fires) caused by debris burning that burned a total of 209 acres.

For more information on opening burning, visit DEC’s website.

Photo of Pottersville Wildfire courtesy

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