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NEW YORK – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to take steps to prevent wildfires as high temperatures are expected this spring. Earlier this week, firefighters responded to numerous reports of brush fires in Albany, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Essex, Herkimer, Orange and Saratoga counties. A statewide ban on open burning is in place through May 14 as brush fires occur frequently this time of year due to dry grass. The Governor is also urging extra caution across the eastern part of the state as there is potential for wildfire conditions through 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
“The residential brush burning ban in effect until mid-May will help protect the health and well-being of both New Yorkers and first responders, as warm weather conditions are expected this spring,” Governor Cuomo said. “I urge New Yorkers to be proactive and prepare for dry weather by taking steps to protect loved ones and property from the dangers of wildfires, and to ensure the safety of communities across the state.”
According to the National Weather Service, New York can expect above average temperatures through the end of June that could increase the likelihood of conditions for wildfires to start and quickly spread. Currently, most of the state has a moderate fire danger rating. However, with the onset of warmer temperatures, the state’s fire danger risk will likely increase. For more information on fire risks, visit the state’s fire danger map, which is updated by DEC daily.
Of New York’s 30.9 million acres, 18.9 million is forested land that are at risk for wildfires. There is also a vast amount of open-space, non-forested lands with significant wildfire potential.
More than 1,700 fire departments across the state respond to an average of 5,300 wildfires each year. In 2016, DEC Forest Rangers extinguished 185 wildfires that burned a total of 4,191 acres.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Our Forest Rangers have already been busy battling wildfires across the state, and many of these events are preventable. We rely on our municipal firefighters and the public to be our partners in protecting our natural resources and communities from wildfire damage and ask for their help in containing and preventing wildfires.”
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner John P. Melville said, “Until spring arrives in earnest and conditions turn green, this is the time of year that the state experiences a high number of brush fires. If you see a fire, immediately report it to your local fire department so that firefighters can quickly respond to put the fire out. Do not assume that someone else has already reported the fire. Take immediate action by calling 911.”
Burn Ban is in Effect Through May 14
Open burning is the single greatest cause of wildfires in New York. When temperatures increase 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. Also, burning leaves and grass is banned in New York State year-round. DEC encourages New Yorkers to compost leaves.
To prevent wildfires, all open burning is prohibited in New York from March 16 through May 14 with a few exceptions, including:
Wildfire Safety Tips
Wildfires often spread quickly, putting New Yorkers, their families, their properties, and their businesses in danger. However, there are many ways to prepare yourself and your home for such emergencies.
Prepare Yourself and Plan Ahead
Make a family emergency plan and practice escape routes away from your home, by car and by foot. Visit the Citizen Preparedness Corps website for steps that families can take to create a household plan that includes protecting children, pets and preparing a go kit. New Yorkers should have some basic supplies on hand in the event of a disaster or emergency.
Install smoke alarms on each floor of your home and change the batteries twice per year when you change your clocks for daylight savings time. Keep fire extinguishers in your home, and teach every member of the family how to use them. Teach children about fire safety and keep matches and lighters out of reach. Store emergency phone numbers and information in the cell phones of each of the members of your family. New Yorkers are also encouraged to sign up for NY-Alert at nyalert.gov, which will send a notification about red flag warnings or conditions.
Precautions to Take:
Prepare Your Property:
Prevent Wildfires From Occurring:
Know What To Do When A Wildfire Occurs:
Prepare for evacuation:
Terms to Know: