Dry weather sparks wildfires
H. Rose Schneider reports in the Times Union that tinder-dry conditions and the fluffy, white seeds of cottonwood and poplar seeds are creating wildfires in the Hudson Valley. On June 1 there were wildfires in Guilderland, Rotterdam, and Schenectady accelerated by the cottonwood and poplar seeds that have blanketed the ground. John Keimer, public information officer for the Westmere Fire Department said, "If it ignites this snow-like material, it takes off. It's like gasoline." Little-to-no precipitation has fallen locally for the past 10 to 14 days, according to Brett Rathbun, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Albany. Rathbun said, "With a combination of it being that warm and that dry for so long.... Any little ignition source could call for some brush fires." Rotterdam, for instance, declared a water emergency this week with a ban on all outdoor water use through the weekend. Cooler temperatures and rain are forecast locally and John Keimer, public information officer for the Westmere Fire Department said, "Hopefully brush season will end shortly." Read more about this story in the Times Union.