Despite a statewide burn ban, local firefighters responded to at least 10 grass and brush fires over the past two days as the warm weather has residents outside burning their old, dead greenery.
The burn ban is in effect until May 14 for most of Oneida County. The burn ban is all year in the City of Rome.
“We can’t emphasize enough how fast a small brush fire can get out of control,” said Rome Deputy Fire Chief Timothy W. Reilly. “Especially with a light wind, like we had yesterday.”
Rome firefighters doused a brush fire at about 1:22 p.m. on Oswego Road Monday after the resident tried burning some dead material on his property. Reilly said the fire nearly spread to the man’s shed and camper.
“It got out of control,” Reilly explained. “The side of the shed was melted. We arrived just in time.”
Fire crews from North Bay, Clayville, Willowvale and West Leyden responded to brush and grass fires on Monday, with more such fires in Verona, Vienna and Lee on Sunday. The Lee Center Fire Department was called out to two separate brush fires on Sunday, on Thomas Road and Golly Road.
“People don’t realize how dry the top layer is,” said Lee Center Fire Chief James F. Rouillier.
Officials said the annual ban has reduced the number of Spring fires per year by 36.7 percent, since the ban first went into effect in 2009.
Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed, but people should never leave such fires unattended and must extinguish them, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. 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.
“While many people associate wildfires with the western United States, the start of spring weather and the potential for dry conditions increases the risk for wildfires in New York,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.
“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 extremely effective in reducing the number of wildfires, and we’re encouraging New Yorkers to put safety first.”
In the City of Rome, there is curb-side green waste collection the day before regular trash day, officials said. For residents outside the city, the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority says it allows yard and green waste drop-off at its facilities during normal business hours. All yard and green waste must be delivered loose and not in plastic or paper bags. Limbs must be less than 14 inches in diameter and no more than six-feet-long. No stumps or root balls accepted.