ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) —  A Friday brush fire off Garden Place in Rensselaer had firefighters battling flames and the 90 degree heat. A former Saratoga County fire chief said crews have ways to cope in these conditions. 


“We try to stay hydrated. Most departments carry water, liquids and bring it on their trucks.” said Former Clifton Park fire chief Art Hunsinger. “We try not to dress in full turnout gear”, he added. 

As News 10 has been reporting, the white fluff you see floating around from cottonwood trees is fueling some of the fires. But as Former Chief Hunsinger advised, that’s not the only plant you should keep your eye on.

COTTONWOOD causing brush fires across Capital Region

“Anything that’s dry, leaves, grass, brush, mulch, pine needles that’s fallen. Anything that’s dry will burn quickly” he warned. 

Even though brush fires occur in wooded areas, Hunsinger told us residential areas have begun to feel the heat:

“Lately though, grass fires or fires that started out as grass fires that later became structure fires because the wind and the dry grass and everything caused the fire to head right to that direction before anyone can get to it and put it out and it would spark the shed and everything on fire, or the back of a house”.

With the forecast calling for rain and lower temperatures this weekend, you might think relief is in sight. Hunsinger cautioned that just any rainfall won’t do:

“The ground is dry and it just rolls off hills and it doesn’t cover it. It doesn’t saturate into the ground. A really quick, heavy thunderstorm doesn’t solve our problems.”

To stop fires, local areas have often instituted burn bans. Hunsinger however, doubts their effectiveness. The former fire chief cited several residential complaints of neighbors burning fires despite bans being in effect. 

“The word burn bans sounds nice and people possibly listen, but the majority of people don’t pay attention to the word burn ban.”