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For Release: Friday, August 19, 2022

With Entire State Classified as a High Fire Risk, DEC Issues Campfire Safety Reminder

Hudson Valley Upgraded to Very High Risk

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today urged New Yorkers to practice the utmost safety when building campfires, and consider going without a campfire unless absolutely necessary.

"If you're enjoying the backcountry these last few weeks of summer, please think about whether you really need that campfire." Commissioner Seggos said. "It's been a hot and dry summer, leading to a drought watch and high fire danger. If you build a campfire, keep an eye on it to make sure the wind doesn't spread it unexpectedly and when you're finished, make sure the fire is completely out and cold to the touch."

The entire state is now at a high risk for fires, and the Hudson Valley at very high risk, meaning that any outdoor fire can spread quickly, especially if the wind picks up. Fires may become serious and their control difficult unless they are attacked successfully while small. There are currently six active fires across the state, burning 47.1 acres of land. The majority of those were started by unattended campfires. Campfires are among the top five causes of wildfires (PDF). Forest Rangers are some of the most highly trained wildland firefighters in the country. But even Rangers can have a difficult time fighting a wildfire, depending on its size and location. Ranger Quinn explains the challenges faced on a fire earlier this month in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area on DEC's Twitter page (leaves DEC website).

Interview with Commissioner Seggos is available for download.

DEC continues to encourage New Yorkers and visitors to follow the recommendations below to reduce the risk of wildfires.

While camping in the backcountry, New Yorkers are advised to:

  1. Use existing campfire rings where possible;
  2. Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass, and leaves. Pile extra wood away from the fire;
  3. Clear the area around the ring of leaves, twigs, and other flammable materials;
  4. Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze could cause the fire to spread quickly.

For information on open burning and campfire safety in New York, go to DEC's Open Burning in New York and Fire Safety When Camping webpages.

For further questions about wildfires, call 1-833-NYS-RANGERS and call 911 to report a wildfire.

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