Oswego County News Release
Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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April 25, 2008

Oswego County Bans Open Burning and Declares State of Emergency

Oswego County Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann declared a state of emergency in Oswego County at noon today, due to the high threat of brush fires, and has ordered a ban on all outdoor burning and recreational outdoor fires in the county.

“Due to the warmer temperatures and lack of rainfall over the past several days, we have a very high fire danger in Oswego County,” said Legislature Chairman Leemann. “I have ordered a ban on all outdoor burning and recreational outdoor fires effective at noon today. Brush fires in Oswego County have over-burdened our fire service and threaten homes and lives.”

The ban on brush fires and open outdoor fires is in effect until further notice. The ban does not include controlled cooking fires, when contained in a controlled fireplace, barbecue grill or cooking pit. However, people cooking outdoors must have proper fire extinguisher equipment close by.

Nearly 90 brush fires have been reported throughout the county since April 3, County Deputy Fire Coordinator Jack Cottet said, often several in a single day.

“We’re asking people to please refrain from all open burning completely until further notice,” Cottet said. “These fires are difficult to fight. They take a great deal of manpower, and our resources are stretched thin.

“A single spark from a controlled open burn can be carried to dry grass or a structure and start a fire that quickly goes out of control,” Cottet said. “People can lose their home in a very short time.”

The 32 volunteer fire departments throughout the county have been overburdened by brush fires over the past few weeks.

“For example, yesterday Oswego Town Fire Department was called to assist in Granby with their brush truck,” said Cottet. The brush truck allows the department to access a fire well off the road a little easier. “On their way back to their station, they were called to a fire in their own town.” Response times weren’t affected, but the crew had no rest. Saturdays are difficult with more people out cleaning their yards, and Cottet urged people to be extremely careful tomorrow.

“Last Saturday was a terrible day,” he said. “We had probably half the county’s departments out on three fires. Everybody wants to clean up their property, but they need to hold off on open burning until after we’ve had a soaking rain.”

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Division of Forest Protection has asked citizens throughout Central New York, including Oswego County, to refrain from burning trash or vegetation.

Legislature Chairman Leemann said that higher than normal temperatures and low relative humidity over the past several days have brought the fire danger level to “very high” throughout the area. Dead grass and areas of light brush dry out within one to ten hours of sun under these conditions and ignite quickly. Fires in these lighter fuels are very volatile, move very quickly, and are difficult to control. Even light winds can lead to loss of control of a fire under these conditions.

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