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For Release: Tuesday, February 7, 2012

DEC Advises to Avoid Burning Brush in Snowless Areas

Residents of Saratoga, Washington, southern Warren and southeastern Fulton counties should avoid burning brush in areas without snow on the ground due to the increased danger of wildfires, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers today advised. Brush fires can easily start wildfires which can threaten structures.

The lack of snow this winter has brought about conditions similar to the spring fire season. Dead and dry ground vegetation normally packed down by snow remains standing - allowing it to dry quickly after rains or snows. The lack of green vegetation, plenty of available fuels such as dry grass and leaves, unseasonably warm temperatures, sunshine and winds all contribute to wildfires that start easily and spread quickly.

These wildfires can be prevented with safe burning practices and the consideration of alternatives such as chipping, composting, only burning brush when there is snow on the ground or waiting until the growth of new green vegetation in the spring.

If you decide to burn your brush, consider burning when conditions are more favorable like when there is snow on the ground, during or soon after a rain event, and when there is little or no wind to spread the flames. Remember never leave a fire unattended and always be sure the fire is completely out!

Some other important brush fire safety tips to know:

  • Check and obey all local laws and ordinances;
  • Burn only brush and tree limbs less than 6 inches in diameter and 8 feet in length;
  • Never burn garbage. It is illegal and creates a public health hazard;
  • Do not burn on windy days or when wind is expected;
  • Burn early in the morning when the humidity is high and winds are low;
  • Clear all flammable material for a distance of 10 to 15 feet around the material to be burned;
  • Keep piles to be burned small, adding small quantities of material as burning progresses; and
  • Always have a garden hose, shovel, water bucket or other means to extinguish the fire close at hand.

Follow these steps to ensure a fire is extinguished: Drown the fire with water making sure all materials, embers and coals are wet; stir the remains, add more water and stir again.

The NY Firewise web page contains information on wildlife safety and prevention. Contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-528-4870 or your local fire department for more information about burning brush.

Wildfire prevention is everyone's responsibility. Do your part to keep New York safe from wildfires.

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  • David Winchell
    1115 NYS, Rt. 86
    Raybrook, NY 12977
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