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High temperatures, low relative humidity, and strong winds across the southern and eastern parts of the state last week led to favorable conditions for the creation of wildfires. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s forest rangers were busy, responding to 22 wildland fires across New York. The fires resulted in 72.6 acres burned. Nine of the fires were caused by strong winds downing powerlines and causing dry grass to burn, while two fires were sparked by embers blown from structure fires into adjacent woodlands.
Eight of these fires were the result of people unlawfully burning debris in violation of the statewide burn ban.
Residential brush burning is prohibited March 16 through May 14 across the state. New York prohibits residential burning during the high-risk fire season to reduce wildfires and protect people, property and natural resources. The ban has been effective in reducing the number of wildfires, and DEC is encouraging New Yorkers to put safety first.
Historically, open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in New York. When temperatures are warmer and the past fall's debris, dead grass and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation.