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Burn ban begins Saturday in New York

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has officially announced the beginning of its annual spring burn ban, aimed at reducing the risks of wildfires. Starting March 16, New Yorkers are reminded that residential brush burning will be prohibited through May 14, an enforcement that has been in place since 2009 to safeguard communities and natural resources during the spring season, a time known for its elevated wildfire conditions.

Reminder: State-wide burn ban remains in effect until May 14

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos highlighted the importance of the ban, especially this year, as New York faces increased wildfire risks due to the drier and warmer conditions experienced over the winter. The prohibition on brush burning is a crucial step in preventing wildfires, protecting both property and lives, including those of rangers and volunteer firefighters who tirelessly work to extinguish these fires.

Despite some areas of the state still covered in snow, the DEC warns that the combination of rising temperatures and dry debris can lead to the quick onset of wildfire conditions. Open burning of debris is identified as the primary cause of spring wildfires in New York, with dozens of incidents handled by DEC Forest Rangers annually.

The ban restricts open burning in residential areas, particularly in towns with fewer than 20,000 residents. However, certain exceptions apply, such as backyard fire pits and cooking fires, provided they meet specific size requirements and only burn appropriate materials. The DEC also emphasizes that burning garbage or leaves is illegal throughout the year.

Violators of the burn ban face significant penalties, including fines starting at $500 for a first offense. New York’s strict regulations on open burning, initiated in 2009, are essential for wildfire prevention and minimizing air pollution. For more information on fire safety and prevention, residents are encouraged to visit the DEC’s FIREWISE New York webpage.

As spring approaches, the DEC and local authorities are gearing up to enforce the burn ban, calling on all New Yorkers to adhere to the regulations and contribute to a safer environment.