GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville Fire Department responded to a shed fire at 104 Park St. Monday afternoon.
City Fire Chief Thomas Groff said Monday the fire was called into the department by a resident on Bloomingdale Avenue at 12:33 p.m. whose wooden fence caught fire as a result of the shed fire.
Groff said that city firefighters had the fire out in about 10 to 15 minutes and were on the scene for about an hour. Park Street was temporarily closed while the crew managed the fire. The shed was a complete loss, as well as the contents of the structure that Groff said he could not identify as a result of the blaze.
The fire caused additional damage to a fence behind the shed that separated the Park Street address from a property on Bloomingdale Avenue. A pickup truck that was parked in the driveway in front of the shed was also damaged and some siding on the property owner’s home and a house next door melted.
No one was home at the time of the fire.
Ann Millington, who lives two houses down from the site of the fire on Park Street, said she didn’t notice anything when she came home around 12:30 p.m. After a few minutes she said she smelled smoke and seeing the fire at the neighboring property was about to call it in when she discovered a passing motorist had already done so.
Millington said the shed was fully engulfed in flames when the fire department arrived a few minutes later and they quickly got the fire under control.
Groff said the fire was caused by ashes from a fire pit that had been improperly disposed of behind the shed. While the ashes were cold when the property owners dumped them, Groff said that they retained enough heat that they were able to reignite in the wind on the dry day.
Groff said the fire probably wouldn’t have happened if the homeowners had been more careful, reminding residents to thoroughly soak ashes before disposal and to never leave fires unattended.
While the city fire department was occupied by the shed fire, the Berkshire Volunteer Fire Department was busy fighting brush and grass fires Monday afternoon in the town of Johnstown.
Volunteer firefighters were called at 12:40 p.m. to a brush fire in an isolated and remote wooded area off Ashler Road.
The department also handled a grass fire at 2:22 p.m. near 141 County Highway 142 in the town of Johnstown.
Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Jeffery T. Smith issued a press release Monday afternoon reminding residents that a state-imposed burn ban is in effect through May 14.
“Dangerous burning conditions exist at this time throughout our county. Please obey the burn ban put in place by New York state,” Smith said. “Our firefighters have already responded to numerous incidents this weekend and today. It’s dangerous for them, but also for structures in the area of any open burn. Vegetation is still brown and spring-like winds create a hazardous combination.”
According to a news release issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in March, open burning is the largest cause of spring wildfires in the state. As temperatures rise resulting in dry conditions, wildfires can start and spread easily further fueled by wind and dry grass and leaves.
New York first enacted strict restrictions on open burning in 2009 to help prevent wildfires and reduce air pollution. Since the ban was established, the average number of spring fires per year decreased by 36.7 percent from 2,649 in 2009, to 1,677 in 2016.
Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round. Violators of the state’s open burning regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense.