Governor Cuomo Warns New Yorkers of Wildfire Risks During Labor Day Weekend

New Yorkers and Visitors Advised to be Cautious with Campfires

Governor Cuomo announced that during Labor Day weekend, much of New York is expected to have warm and dry weather which can increase the likelihood of conditions that allow wildfires to start and spread quickly. Residents and visitors are being urged to exercise extreme caution with campfires.

“Reckless behavior during these dry conditions can be a recipe for disaster,” Governor Cuomo said.” I urge everyone to stay safe and be responsible while enjoying the outdoors this holiday weekend in order to prevent avoidable dangers and senseless tragedies.”

Currently, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers are working to extinguish six small wildfires that have been contained at a combined total of 3.4 acres. Two fires are in Suffolk County, two in the eastern Catskills and two in the eastern Adirondacks. Three fires were caused by unextinguished campfires, two by lightning strikes and one is under investigation. Rangers have contained the spread of these fires but the fires are burning deep into the soil and are difficult to extinguish.

Tips for campers to be cautious with campfires include:

  • Use a cooking stove instead of a campfire to prepare meals;
  • Use existing campfire rings when possible and keep fires small;
  • Scrape away litter, duff and any burnable material within a 10-foot diameter circle. This will keep the campfire from spreading;
  • Never leave a campfire unattended; and
  • Drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals and sticks are wet. Stir the remains, add more water and stir again.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman said, “We encourage people to get out and enjoy camping and other outdoor adventures as we approach the end of summer. Please keep in mind, safety during these fire warnings is critical to ensure our outdoor recreation sites and surrounding communities take the measures necessary to prevent wildfires.”

Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness Area and on all Department of Environmental Conservation state lands in Suffolk County.

New York State is also reminding people to be cautious with barbeque grills by keeping them away from brush, grass and other flammable materials. Charcoal ashes or embers should not be disposed of until they are cool to the touch. The illegal use of fireworks can also start wildfires and is prohibited.

Additionally, residents and visitors should avoid burning brush at this time, especially from late morning through early evening and whenever windy conditions are present. Never leave a fire unattended until it is completely out and all ashes and embers are cool.

Wildfire prevention is everyone’s responsibility. Do your part to keep New York safe from wildfires. The Department of Environmental Conservation’s Outdoor Fire Safety webpagehas additional safety tips for campfires and burning brush. More information on wildlife prevention may be found on the FIREWISE New York web pages. Click here to see the current fire danger map in New York State.

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