Since mid-April, there have been five unexplained forest fires on federal, state, county, and private lands, including Long Island's Pine Barrens region, where some 167 acres have burned. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has called for the public's assistance to get to the bottom of the cluster.
Such an outbreak of forest fires poses a new challenge for D.E.C. forest rangers, the agency said in an announcement. Alongside Suffolk County, Brookhaven and Riverhead fire marshals, and Brookhaven National Laboratory firefighters, the rangers are using new technology to investigate the causes.
Not only do fires damage habitats, but when uncontrolled, they also pose a threat to nearby homes and volunteer firefighters. The D.E.C. has recommended that people refrain from burning household trash, limit campfires to less than three feet in height and four feet in width or diameter, and follow specific parameters when doing open burning to control invasive species or for agricultural purposes. More information is available online here.
Anyone with knowledge about the rash of unexplained fires has been asked to call the D.E.C.'s Office of Public Protection at 518-408-5858, or call the Suffolk County, Brookhaven, or Riverhead fire marshals' offices.