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Firefightersassociation urges caution when outdoor burning

PLATTSBURGH - Though a statewide ban on outdoor burning was recently lifted, there are still words of caution being issued by the Clinton County Firefighters Association.

Chuck Kostyk, public relations chairman for the association, said though the ban was lifted May 15, there are still certain precautions that need to be taken as outdoor burns can still get "out of control."

"Dead grass, leaves and other vegetation are still present and can fuel a fire that is not properly controlled," said Kostyk.

Every year, firefighters in Clinton County respond to dozens of grass, brush and forest fires started by well-intentioned individuals conducting an outdoor burn, said Kostyk. The idea is to take steps to prevent that from happening, he added.

Those who want to conduct an outdoor burn should first check to see if what they're burning is legal to burn and if there are any special requirements or permits necessary to obtain before open burning.

"Only branches and limbs are allowed for burns per [state Department of Environmental Conservation] regulations," said Kostyk, adding burn barrels are specifically prohibited year-round. "You should always verify with your local municipality to see if permits are required or if there are other restrictions."

When burning, people should be mindful of weather conditions and take proper precautions, said Kostyk, such as having a garden hose nearby, having hand tools such as a rake or shovel available, clearing a proper area around the burn and leaving a safe distance from structures.

"Weather is always a consideration. Wind is a major factor in burns that get out of control," said Kostyk, adding it's important to keep an eye on weather reports before and during a burn.

"Burns should never be left unattended," he continued. "The slightest increase in wind velocity or change of direction could dramatically impact the burn."

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