“This is a high-risk period for fires throughout New York State,” said Forbes. “Despite recent snowfall, spring is not far off and outdoor fires will happen as tall grass, hay and brush dry.”
New York State regulations strictly prohibit open burning except in the following cases:
• Campfires less than three feet in height and four feet in length, width, or diameter.
• Small cooking fires using only charcoal or clean, dry, untreated and unpainted wood.
• Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires
• On-site burning of agricultural or organic waste generated on a farm larger than five acres.
There are certain circumstances in which controlled burns, with a written permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), are permissible.
Burning of branches and limbs after May 14 and through March 15 of the following year is permissible in any town with a population less than 20,000; however, individual municipalities can pass their own ordinances regulating open fires. Forbes encourages residents to check with their local authorities to find out if local law prohibits open fires or requires a permit.
According to state regulations, it is illegal to use a burn barrel or open pit as a means for incinerating trash or burning leaves at any time of the year.
Fires cannot be left unattended, must have a ready water supply available and be fully extinguished before walking away.
Violators of open burning state regulations are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for the first offense.
To report open burning, call the NYSDEC at 1-800-847-7332. For more information, visit the NYSDEC Web site at http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/80920.html.