Updated 07/13/2012 07:03 PM
State urging caution with outdoor fires
Dry conditions and high temperatures have forced state officials to issue a residential burn ban through October 10, but folks going camping can still enjoy a cookout or a night by the fire. As YNN's Erin Clarke tells us, they'll just have to take extra caution.
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NEW YORK STATE -- Eugenia Nascimento and her friend are camping at Green Lakes State Park.
"Being out here in nature and hearing the birds. I couldn't be happier," said Nascimento.
Like everyone else pitching a tent, she has to eat, which probably means starting a fire. With extremely dry conditions caused by a mild winter, little spring and summer rain, wildfire danger across New York is heightened.
"You're allowed to have campfires, but they have to be in the barbecue pit or the fire pit, not outside, small fires and people have to just be mindful and think that we're having a fire, they have to make sure it's out when they leave," said Green Lakes State Park Manager Jim Semar.
And when it's as hot as it is today extra precaution is needed. Just because you can no longer see flames doesn't necessarily mean a fire is extinguished.
"There's also what they call ground fire, when it's very dry and somewhat droughty conditions like we're seeing now the fire will actually burn down into the ground," said New York State Forest Ranger Scott Jackson.
That fire could still be burning underground even after throwing a few gallons of water on the surface.
"Apply water, but they also need to mix it in. Use a shovel or a stick. Stir it into the coals real good," said Jackson.
He says ground fires are common, relatively small, but take a lot of time and energy to put out.
"They take a lot of heavy digging, either by hand tools for the firefighters to where the fire is burning," said Jackson.
Luckily, Green Lakes hasn't experienced any wildfires this year and park officials are hoping to keep it that way.
State Forest Rangers say fines related to wildfires can be more than $250 and violators can be held responsible for the costs to suppress a fire that may occur.