Albany, NY (April 16, 2012)
Governor Andrew Cuomo today urged all New Yorkers to take extra caution, as dry weather conditions have led to a very high danger of wildfires across New York State.
"These conditions should not be taken lightly," Governor Cuomo said. "The potential for disastrous wildfires is present in all areas of the state and we must do whatever we can to prevent fires from occurring. The state will continue to closely monitor the wildfire danger and I will deploy whatever resources are necessary to protect New Yorkers should a critical situation occur."
As a result of lower amounts of snow this winter and the lack of substantial rain this spring, the wildfire danger across New York is much higher than usual. Current weather forecasts predict higher-than-average temperatures and substantial winds, elevating the risk to a very high danger, especially in the southern Hudson Valley.
Widfires can start easily from many types of causes and can spread rapidly and increase quickly in intensity. The Governor urged New Yorkers to refrain from starting any type of outdoor fire and to take extra caution, including making sure a lit cigarette is completely extinguished or keeping a close eye on the grill when cooking outdoors.
At the Governor's direction, the following steps have been taken to properly prepare the state for the increased danger of fires:
- The New York State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Albany has been activated to provide a heightened state of readiness. Representatives from the Office of Emergency Management (State OEM), State Police, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) will staff the State EOC on a 24/7 basis as necessary.
- State Police and DEC officials will conduct aerial reconnaissance in high risk areas to identify fire situations before they threaten life and property.
- One State Police helicopter equipped with aerial firefighting equipment will be prepositioned in an area of the state where the risk is highest.
- National Guard helicopters will be at a heightened state of readiness to support wild land firefighting operations.
The Governor also reminded New Yorkers that a state ban on residential brush burning is in effect through May 14. Violators of the open burning state regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions.
Last week, Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency for Suffolk County as brush fires threatened almost 1,200 acres of land. Staff from State Police, DEC, OFPC and State OEM were deployed to assist local governments in Suffolk County and other regions of the state, and State Police helicopters were used to perform water-dropping missions.
For more information, visit http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/brush-fire.cfm.