Brush burning ban starts Saturday, officials warn

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Residential brush burning will be prohibited in New York state from Saturday, March 16, through May 14, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has announced.

Some municipalities, including the City of Rome, have year-round bans in regards to burning brush or green waste.

While the current risk of wildfire is low, warming temperatures can quickly cause wildfire conditions, the DEC said.

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, the DEC added.

New York first enacted strict restrictions on open burning in 2009 to help prevent wildfires and reduce air pollution.

State regulations allow residential brush fires in towns with fewer than 20,000 residents during most of the year, but prohibit such burning in spring when most wildfires in New York occur. Since the ban was established, the eight-year annual average number of spring fires decreased by 42.6 percent, from 2,649 in 2009, to 1,521 in 2018.

Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed, but people should never leave such fires unattended and must extinguish them. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round.

Violators of the state’s open burning regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense. To report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332), or report online on DEC’s website.

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