Upstate New York is under increased fire risk due to the dry and windy weather in the forecast.

Multiple wildfires sparked across the Empire State during the month of February and state officials have elevated the fire danger warning for Upstate and Western New York.

Fire danger is increased due to the strong winds and dry weather expected to impact the area through the weekend. Gusts could reach as high as 20 miles per hour on Friday and breezy conditions will continue through Saturday night.

Accidental Fire Risk Increases

Credit - NYS DEC
Credit - NYS DEC

The NY Department of Environmental Conservation raised a blue flag warning for the Lake Ontario Plains and Southern Tier regions of the state. The affected areas include Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego, and Northern Oneida and Onondaga County.

A blue flag warning means these areas are under moderate risk of wildfires.

The DEC explained, "Fires can start from most accidental causes." Examples include throwing still-lit cigarettes out a moving car or unattended fire pits.

"Fires in open cured grasslands will burn briskly and spread rapidly on windy days. Timber fires spread slowly to moderately fast," the DEC continued. "The average fire is of moderate intensity, although heavy concentrations of fuel, especially draped fuel, may burn hot."

The good news is that fires in these conditions are easier to extinguish, but the DEC is reminding residents to be mindful that the season for fire danger is officially here.

New York Burn Ban Now in Effect

Firefighter wearing a rolled hose
Photo Credit - MaboHH/Thinkstock/GettySotck

Although it is cold and damp outside, the risk of a wildfire is rising due to warming weather and lower humidity. Additionally, the lack of snow means at-risk vegetation did not receive its needed protective layer when it went dormant for the winter.

New Yorkers are not allowed to burn brush from now through May 14 due to the increased risk of unintentional wildfires.

Read More: What to Know about New York's Statewide Burn Ban Goes

Campfires or fire pits with flames under 3 feet high and four feet wide are exempt from the ban. Small cooking fires can only burn using the appropriate wood or charcoal.

Although New York has seen its fair share of wildfires this year, it's nowhere near the record wildfires burning in Texas. Currently, 25 fires have been reported and roughly 1.1 million acres have burned.

The best way to reduce fire danger is to never leave open flames unattended, always have an extinguisher accessible at all times, and cease throwing cigarette butts out of windows.

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