WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — The annual brush burn ban has come to an end in New York, which is leaving North Country residents questioning: it is safe to burn?
The answer will depend on the weather conditions that day, with conditions sometimes changing overnight.
But if not controlled properly, regardless of conditions, burning can lead to wildfires, which are unplanned or unwanted fires, especially when fuels are dry and humidity is low.
According to Forest Ranger Howard F. Thomes, who works in the Division of Forest Protection at the Department of Environmental Conservation, this is why burning is always risky.
“Burning is always dangerous in the DEC’s eyes,” Thomes explained. “It can be always dangerous. People have to take that into respect. If they’re going to start to burn their brush piles and things, they have to have to take some safety measures of their own.”
These precautions include monitoring wind speeds, wind directions, moving burn piles away from wooded areas and adjoining property lines and having a reliable water source nearby.
But if a fire does get out of hand, Thomes urged to call emergency responders, immediately.
“Do not hesitate to call 911. Get the fire department, your local fire department rolling to the scene,” Thomes urged. “It’s better to put out a small fire quickly than to have a fire express where multiple departments are called.”
Fire danger risks are updated daily on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website. The map rates fire risks across six levels ranging from “low” to “extreme.”
As of May 18, the entire state was rated to have a moderate fire danger risk. However, if fire risks become high or extreme, local governments may instate burn bans throughout the summer.
DEC Forest Rangers, Police Officers and local authorities will also continue to enforce open burning laws this spring and summer. Violaters of the State’s open burning regulations are subject to criminal and civil actions, with a minimum fine of $500.