Wildfires fully contained in Chenango, Yates, Ulster and Sullivan counties
Dry weather conditions still ideal for more potential wildfires
Residential brush burning ban remains in effect through May 14
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed state emergency personnel to the wildfire in Greene County, which started late Thursday and is 30 percent contained. State and local first responders have worked around the clock in other affected counties to battle various fires in the state, which are now fully contained in Chenango, Yates, Ulster and Sullivan counties after raging across thousands of acres.
“State emergency personnel have been assisting local firefighters across the state to battle these wildfires, which have spread as a result of currently dry weather conditions," Governor Cuomo said. "We continue to work with them and, as always, the safety of our residents is the top priority. I once again urge New Yorkers in affected areas to stay alert and informed of the present dangers.”
The state is currently monitoring several brush fires across New York. In Greene County, personnel from the Department of Environmental Conservation, State Police, Office of Fire Prevention and Control, Office of Emergency Management, and Office of Interoperable Emergency Communications are assisting local first responders with command and control support. The fire is currently 30 percent contained and is difficult to battle due to the mountainous terrain and dense forest.
Throughout the state, there are seven emergency response personnel from the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Fire Prevention and Control and 29 Forest Rangers from the Department of Environmental Conservation to assist with fire suppression efforts. The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services are monitoring fires in Chenango, Chautauqua, Dutchess, Franklin, Kings, and St. Lawrence counties.
Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in the state. When temperatures are warmer and grasses and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and the lack of green vegetation. Forecasted conditions include low humidity, gusty winds and higher temperatures, which can exacerbate sparks and small flames and could lead to a larger and more dangerous fire.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has closed all trails in the Hunter-West Kill Wilderness area in the town of Hunter, Greene County, until further notice due to a 60-acre forest fire.
All campfires in the Catskill Forest Preserve are banned through May 14 due to the continued high fire danger as a result of the dry weather conditions.
The closed trails are:
- Devil’s Path Trail
- Diamond Notch Trail
- Beckner Hollow Trail
- Hunter Mt. Trail
- Spruceton Trail
- Colonel’s Chair Trail
While several fires are contained, critical weather conditions indicate there may be additional brush fires throughout the state, as most of New York has been categorized as a moderate to high risk for fires by the National Weather Service. Fires could start easily and could become dangerous if not extinguished while small.
To view an updated map of fire danger ratings in New York, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/68329.html.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner John P. Melville said, “The Division of Homeland Security will continue to assist with any needs that local emergency officials and fire departments request to extinguish these fires. We continue to ask that residents remember the risk of outdoor burning during this time of year and heed all state and local laws regarding the burning of residential brush and waste.”
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said, “I urge everyone to be cautious during this time of year which has the highest risk of fires. With the current warm, dry period we are experiencing the danger of fires is even greater. In an effort to protect the health and safety of our families, neighbors and our natural environment, Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers will be responding to help battle fires across the state, and residents can assist too by remembering that the burn ban is in place for a good reason.”
Since 2009, New York State has enforced a residential brush burning ban for towns with fewer than 20,000 residents from March 16 through May 14, the period when most wildfires occur. Some towns, primarily in and around the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park, are designated “fire towns,” and open burning is prohibited year-round in these municipalities unless an individual or group has a written permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Violators of the open burning regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense.
In the five-year period since the ban was enacted, the average number of spring fires per year decreased from 3,297 to 1,425 or 43.2 percent.
Call 9-1-1 to report a suspected wildfire. The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services reminds New Yorkers to have a family evacuation plan and a go kit ready for emergencies. For a list of emergency supplies, visit http://prepare.ny.gov/be-prepared. For information and tips on wildfires, visit the Department of Environmental Conservation website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/42524.html. For tips on protecting your home, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/42529.html.