Burn ban begins for New Yorkers

By Kelly McCarthy

March 17, 2013 Updated Mar 17, 2013 at 11:06 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reminds New Yorkers that a statewide ban against burning brush takes effect this week, and lasts through mid-May.

All residential brush burning is prohibited during the state's historically high-fire-risk period beginning March 16 through May 14. Open burning is the largest single cause of wildfires in New York State, according to the DEC.

In 2009, New York toughened restrictions on open burning to reduce harmful air pollutants and help prevent wildfires. While the regulation allows residential brush burning for most of the year in towns with a population of less than 20,000, it prohibits open burning in all communities during early spring, when the bulk of New York's wildfires typically occur. The new regulation prohibits the burning of garbage at all times.

Several factors enable wildfires to start easily and spread quickly, including the lack of green vegetation, abundance of available fuels, such as dry grass and leaves, warm temperatures and wind.

According to the DEC, fire department data from 2010 to 2012 shows a 35 percent reduction in wildfires during the burn ban period, compared to the previous 10 years. The data also shows 80 percent of all communities across the state had fewer wildfires compared to the previous 10 years.

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