Broome County Fire officials say while New York’s annual spring ban on outdoor burning doesn’t start for another week and rain is in the forecast, residents should refrain from burning brush and be extra careful with fire outside due to extremely dry conditions. 

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

Broome County Emergency Services officials say firefighters responded to nearly a half dozen brush fires March 9, including one on Farm-to-Market Road in the Town of Maine that was sparked by the careless smoking of a cigar.

Tioga County fire units, meanwhile were among those called to assist in a huge grass and structure fire just over the border to the west in Chemung County at around 4 in the afternoon.  Chemung County Fire Wire posts indicate a grass fire got out of control and spread to three barn structures. There were no reports of injuries.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issues a ban on open burning every spring due to dry brush and strong seasonal winds.  This year’s ban begins March 16 and continues into May.

Local fire officials say, however, due to the low precipitation this winter, the dead grass and brush on the ground is especially dry now, increasing the danger for brush fires.