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DEC: Warm Temps To Increase Risk of Wildfires In NYS

The New York State DEC is warning that this spring could see increased risk of wildfires.
The New York State DEC is warning that this spring could see increased risk of wildfires. Photo Credit: www.geog.ucsb.edu

New Yorkers across the state are being asked to avoid burning residential brush during a season in which most land is considered at increased risk of wildfires.

In a recent statement, the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation said unseasonably warm temperatures forecasted for the area are combining with a lack of snow cover to create conditions perfect for wildfires.

Homeowners are urged to avoid burning brush from now until at least May 14.

“While many people may associate wildfires with the western United States, the early start of spring weather, dry conditions and lack of snow pack are increasing the risk for wildfires in New York,” said Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos. “New York prohibits residential burning during the high-risk fire season to reduce wildfires and protect people, property and natural resources.”

The year-round ban, which according to DEC, has been in place since 2009, has been effective in curbing the number of wildfires to strike across the state.

Since that time, the number of spring fires, on average, has dropped from 3,297 in 2009 to 1,649 last year, according to the DEC.

Still, the open burning of debris in New York is the largest cause of wildfires across the state each spring, according to the DEC. When temperatures are warmer and the past fall’s debris and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation.

Instead of burning, alternatives are being urged as a means through which to dispose of brush. Chipping wood and downed trees, for example, is an effective source of mulch and can aid in composting yard waste, leaves and plants.

The DEC posts a fire danger rating forecast map on it’s website daily. Currently, the map places the Hudson Valley and Long Island areas at moderate risk for wildfires.

Violations of the law can come along with substantial penalties. To report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332), or report online on DEC’s website .

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