(WSYR-TV) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos encouraged New Yorkers to remember and practice the safety procedures when building campfires this summer. This is important because according to the DEC, June and July have an increased risk of fires due to dry weather.

“The sunny, summer weather is giving people ample opportunity to enjoy New York’s outdoors, but it’s also increasing the risk for fires,” Commissioner Seggos said. “When building a campfire, please make sure to always keep an eye on it and pay attention to the wind. And when finished, make sure the fire is fully out and cold to the touch.”

Campfires are one of the top five causes of wildfires and according to the DEC, the majority of New York State remains at a moderate risk for fires, which means they can spread quickly.

To reduce the risk of wildfires, the DEC encourages New Yorkers to follow the recommendations below.

New Yorkers are advised to do the following while camping in the backcountry:

  • Use existing campfire rings where possible
  • Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass, and leaves
  • Pile extra wood away from the fire
  • Clear the area around the ring of leaves, twigs, and other flammable materials
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze could cause the fire to spread quickly
  • Drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Move rocks as there may be burning embers underneath

Fire safety tips for burning wood or brush:

  • Never burn on a windy day
  • Check and obey all local laws and ordinances
  • Burn early in the morning when humidity is high and wind is low
  • Clear all flammable material for a distance of 10 to 15 feet around the fire
  • Keep piles to be burned small, adding small quantities of material as burning progresses
  • Always have a garden hose, shovel, water bucket, or other means to extinguish the fire close at hand
  • When done, drown the fire with water, making sure all materials, embers, and coals are wet

Do not burn household trash:

  • Burning trash is prohibited statewide for all causes
  • DEC recommends recycling all appropriate materials (such as newspaper, paper, glass, and plastic) and composting organic kitchen and garden waste
  • Burning leaves is also banned in New York State and DEC encourages composting leaves
  • Disposal of flags or religious items in a small-sized fire is allowed if it is not otherwise prohibited by law or regulation

Visit DEC’s website for more information on open burning in New York and fire safety when camping.