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Burn ban extended to May 21

Because of the persistent dry conditions across the state this spring, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday the state is extending its brush-burning ban this year at least an extra week to May 21.

The ban also prohibits outdoor fires, such as campfires and recreational fires, and open fires used for cooking.

All of Western New York remained under “moderate” danger for brush fire risk as of Wednesday. Areas of the eastern part of the state were listed as “high risk” areas.

Some local fire departments have been busy this week responding to small brush fires associated with the dry conditions.

The region is in the midst of the eighth longest stretch in weather recorded history without a day of precipitation at or exceeding 0.75 inches. Wednesday was the 220th consecutive day, according to National Weather Service data.

Since November, the amount of precipitation at Buffalo is running more than 6 inches below normal, the data shows.

Residential brush burning, which is permitted in towns with populations of less than 20,000, is prohibited between mid-March and mid-May under a restriction imposed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2009.

In the time since the ban was enacted, the DEC reported “the average number of spring fires per year decreased by 43.2 percent, from 3,297 in 2009 to 1,425 to 2014.”

Open burning violations can face a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense, according to the DEC.

To report environmental law violations call 1-844-332-3267. Reports can also be made online on the DEC’s website.