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Eight wildfires now burning in New York State

DEC, State Parks, and Ulster County Battle Wildland Fire in Minnewaska State Park

Eight wildfires now burning in New York State

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers and staff volunteers, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) staff, and Ulster County Department of Emergency Services today announced continuing suppression efforts to fight wildfires in the lower Hudson Valley with support from New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation and the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES). The Napanoch Fire in Ulster County is believed to have been started by a lightning strike.

On Aug. 27 at 4:55 p.m., OPRHP requested DEC Forest Ranger assistance to locate a fire in the Napanoch Point area of Minnewaska State Park. Due to the remote and rugged terrain, NYSP Aviation was called in to assist with scouting the fire and provide bucket drops. On Aug. 28, nearly 100 State and local firefighters, working in a joint unified command led by DEC Forest Rangers, continued the suppression effort. Two NYSP helicopters conducted dozens of bucket drops. The fire is expected to spread overnight and crews will continue to work daily on suppression efforts.

Assisting on-scene are firefighters from Accord, Kerhonkson, Ellenville, Cragsmoor, Napanoch, DEC, OPRHP, and Mohonk Preserve. Additional agencies assisting the effort are Ulster County Sheriffs Office, Ulster County Department of Emergency Services, Ellenville Rescue, and DHSES.

Extremely dry conditions and difficult terrain are increasing the challenges in containing the fire. DEC worked with local fire departments to coordinate a water supply to reach the fire.
In addition to the wildland fire in Ulster County, Forest Rangers are tracking eight fires statewide. On Aug. 27 at 1:25 p.m., Sullivan County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance with a fire on private lands in the town of Mamakating. 

The fire was originally estimated at approximately 25 acres. With the help of NYSP Aviation, Rangers began bucket drops to attack the fire from above. Rangers worked with multiple fire departments to install a fire line with a bulldozer. On Aug. 28 at 9 a.m., the fire had grown to 50 acres. By 2:35 p.m., five Rangers and 57 volunteers contained the fire, which started with debris burning.

New York’s Hudson Valley and Catskill regions remain at high fire danger risk (view the current Fire Danger Map), meaning outdoor fires have the potential to spread quickly, especially if the wind picks up. Fires may become serious and difficult to control unless successfully contained while small. DEC continues to encourage New Yorkers and visitors to follow the recommendations below to reduce the risk of wildfires.

While camping in the backcountry, New Yorkers are advised to:
  1. Use existing campfire rings where possible;

  2. Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass, and leaves. Pile extra wood away from the fire;

  3. Clear the area around the ring of leaves, twigs, and other flammable materials; and

  4. Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze could cause the fire to spread quickly.
For information on open burning and campfire safety in New York, go to DEC's Open Burning in New York and Fire Safety When Camping webpages. For further questions about wildfires, call 1-833-NYS-RANGERS and call 911 to report a wildfire.

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