Burn Ban in Effect, Mulch a Possible Hazard

July 16, 2012 Updated Jul 16, 2012 at 7:56 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

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July 16, 2012 Updated Jul 16, 2012 at 7:56 PM EDT

BUFFALO (WKBW) From now until October, Governor Andrew Cuomo is ordering residents to refrain from any and all unnecessary burning.

"Any use of fire is a potentially hazardous situation not just for the residents but for the firefighters as well. So we admonish you to be safe. Just be very careful, especially in times like these," Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield said.

There were two brush fires last week alone in Western New York, including one in Derby, where firefighters say a resident simply ignored the burn ban.

"He had a small brush pile that he was trying to get rid of, and believed that the fire was out when he went to bed, and this morning the wind kicked up a little bit, and an ember probably blew out of the burn pile," North Evans Fire District Chief Nick Mecca said on Saturday.

And given the weather we've been having with the hot temperatures and lack of rain, experts say dry grass and brush aren't the only fire hazards that may be around your home, including in your garden.

"The biggest problem with mulch is that if you don't water it it has the potential to start on fire," Gary Sokolowski of Menne Nursery said.

Landscaping experts say dry mulch paired with an ignition source could spell disaster for homeowners if not properly watered and cared for.

"Just being conscious. You have to watch if you have an open fire that it doesn't spark up on the mulch. The biggest problem is when people throw cigarette butts on it, it will just smolder and eventually catch on fire and it will just spread throughout the mulch," Sokolowski added.

So fire officials are pushing a simple agenda; don't burn and be safe.

"Just using commons sense, fire safety tips, for any use of a flame in our community will hopefully help us," Commissioner Whitfield said.