State declares burning ban in St. Lawrence County March 16 through May 14
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 6:23 am

All residential brush burning is prohibited in smaller communities in St. Lawrence County and around the state during the state's historically high fire-risk period from March 16 through May 14.

"This time of year has the most risk of fires and the risk is even greater this year due to the extremely mild winter we've seen across the state," said state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Martens.

Martens said that since the open burning regulation passed in 2009, there have been fewer fires reported in New York state.

St. Lawrence County frequently will order an open burning ban in the county during dry periods at this time of year, but so far there has been no such ban ordered by the county.

Fire department data for 2010 and 2011 indicated a 26 percent reduction in wildfires during the burn ban period for those years when compared to the previous 10 years (2000-2009). In addition, 86 percent of all communities across the state had a reduction of wildfires compared with the previous five years.

In 2009, New York toughened restrictions on open burning to reduce harmful air pollutants and help prevent wildfires. While the burn ban regulation allows residential brush burning for most of the year in towns with a populations of less than 20,000, it prohibits open burning in all communities during early spring when the bulk of New York's wildfires typically occur. The state regulation prohibits the burning of garbage at all times and in all places.

Several factors enable wildfires to start easily and spread quickly at this time, including the lack of green vegetation, abundance of available fuels such as dry grass and leaves, warm temperatures and wind.

Open burning is the largest single cause of wildfires in New York state.