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For Release: Friday, May 15, 2015

DEC: Campfires, Recreational Fires and Outdoor Cooking Fires Will Be Allowed Due to Downgrade of State's Fire Danger Rating

Milder Temperatures and Rain Forecasts Reduce Fire Risk Across the State

Brush Burning Ban Remains in Effect Through May 21

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has downgraded the fire danger rating in the state from "high" to "moderate" due to milder temperatures, especially at night, and rain forecasted for many areas of New York the next few days. As a result, campfires, recreational fires and outdoor cooking fires will be allowed. The ban on brush burning remains in effect through May 21.

"In recent weeks, state and local responders have battled a large number of wildfires across New York State, fueled by high temperatures and extremely dry conditions," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "Based on milder temperatures and forecasts for rain in many areas of New York, campfires and small outdoor fires will be allowed. While this is welcome news for anyone who will be enjoying the outdoors this weekend, I urge people to be cautious with campfires and outdoor cooking fires to protect themselves and others, and help preserve our beautiful natural resources."

The following safety tips should be followed when using a campfire:

  • Use existing campfire rings when possible.
  • Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass and leaves. Pile any extra wood away from the fire.
  • Limit the size of campfires to no more than 3 feet in height and 4 feet in diameter, and only use charcoal or untreated wood as fuel. Also keep any burnable material within a 10 foot diameter circle to prevent a campfire from spreading.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze could cause the fire to spread quickly.
  • Drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Move rocks as there may be burning embers underneath.
  • Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. If you do not have water use dirt. Do not bury your coals as they can smolder and break out.
  • Consider using a small stove for cooking in remote areas vs making a campfire.

There are currently five active fires in New York, totaling nearly 3,000 acres. All the fires are contained, but are being patrolled to ensure there are no flare ups.

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