High Fire Danger Warnings Issued for New York and New Jersey
Several recent fires in our region—including a five-alarm fire in Shawangunk Ridge State Forest and a brush fire that has closed a portion of the Shore Trail in Palisades Interstate Park—have renewed the need to remind recreationists of increased wildfire danger this time of year.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a high fire danger warning throughout New York State today, with several red flag areas. The DEC reminds people that there is no open burning in NYS until May 15. Likewise, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection warns of high fire danger throughout the entire state of New Jersey. As of April 26, the New Jersey State Forestry Services has reported 324 fires in 2015. That’s compared to 488 fires in all of 2014.
Snowy winters often lead to active fire seasons. Local fire officials had hoped to preemptively burn brush and grass to reduce the risk of wildfires, but the recent weather has hampered their efforts.
The New Jersey Forest Fire Service recommends the following guidelines to reduce the risk of fires:
- Use ashtrays in vehicles. Discarding cigarettes, matches, and smoking materials is a violation of New Jersey law.
- Obtain necessary permits for campfires. Don't leave fires unattended. Douse them completely.
- Keep matches and lighters away from children. Teach them the dangers of fire.
- People living in the forest should maintain a defensible buffer by clearing vegetation within 30 feet of any structures. Also, make sure fire trucks can pass down your driveway.
- Report suspicious vehicles and individuals. Arson is a major cause of forest fires in New Jersey.