COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding New Yorkers of the upcoming annual statewide ban. The ban prohibits residential brush burning.

The prohibition takes place from March 16 through May 14.

According to the DEC, open burning debris is the number one cause of spring wildfires in New York. As we approach warmer weather, debris from last fall will start to dry out and that can cause wildfires to spread easily.

Wildfires can burn hundreds of acres in minutes. The Cohoes Fire Department is no stranger to responding to brush fire calls. Chief Joseph Fahd said the ban has significantly reduced the number of wildfires in their city.

“It cuts down our workload and helps prevent some of these grass and brush fires that we have to go in and get,” he said. “Last year, we probably had maybe two. And before the ban we would be fighting everyday grass fires.”

While open burning is restricted, people can still have small backyard fire pits and cooking fires. Taking extra safety measures, the Cohoes Fire Department is urging residents to get a permit from the department if they want to have a bonfire. Officials said to always have a hose nearby, don’t leave it unattended, and have the fire completely out before the end of the night.