Rochester, N.Y. - According to the US Forest Service 9 out of 10 wildfires across the United States are caused by humans and the quick transition from winter into summer has brought a lack of rain this season which is making things drier than normal.

Meteorologist Mark McClain from 13-WHAM-TV says that there has been a high pressure system that has pushed all of the rain away from the area. "The rain just cant make its way through the high pressure here in the North East,” says McClain. “As a result, normally we would have about 10 inches of rain since the first of the year and Rochester has only had   7.75"”

The lack of rain is just part of the problem that is getting the state department of conservation worried. "This time of year we usually have an increased chance of fire due to the lack of green vegetation and if there is a lack of rain and low humidity that just increases it significantly." Joe Schaffer is a Lt. Forest Ranger out of Avon and he says that this time of year is prime time for wild fires in the state. "The Spring time is when we get most of our wild fires and depending on the year we get anywhere between 30% to 50% of our fires just between mid-March and mid-May."

Even with the safest fire practices the environment this time of year, especially this year; the brush is generally ready to burn an hour after a rainfall. ."The stuff dries our so dramatically fast as opposed to the rest of the year. Usually in the Spring most of the stuff that burns only takes approximately an hour to dry out. If you have a rain, even at night, if the sun comes out and it is dry within approximately an hour it is ready to burn and that is most of the stuff that burns during the spring time."

In 2009 New York State passed tougher open burning legislation and since then there has been less wild fires in the empire state and Lt. Ranger Schaffer says that the laws are simple.  "The law says that you have to clear three feet around the fire any flammable material so literally to the soil. You also should have water, shovel, or in this time of year a leaf rake works well, in case the fire spreads beyond you. Also by law, you need to be attending the fire until it is completely quenched."

A quenched fire is a fire that is no longer burning. Schaffer says that the best way to make sure the fire is completely out is to touch it. if the fire does not hurt the fire is out.


More Links About Fire Safety:

US Forest Service:

http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/

Somkey the Bear:

http://www.smokeybear.com/

NYS DEC Open Burning Law Info:

http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/58519.html