Three wildfires are burning on or near the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, including at at Naponach Point in Minnewaska State Park.
The three blazes in the Shawangunk fire complex include the Napanoch Point fire in Minnewaska State Park, which started Sunday afternoon as a result of a suspected lightning strike and is estimated at 270 acres on Wednesday afternoon. A smaller fire approximately two miles east of the Napanoch Point fire, named Stony Kill, was detected on Monday, grew to about 1.5 acres and was 95% contained on Wednesday afternoon. The Wurtsboro fire in the town of Mamakating was reported early Saturday afternoon and was approximately 70 acres on Tuesday afternoon.
The 22,275-acre Minnewaska State Park features scenic overlooks of the Catskills and four high elevation lakes. Mohonk Lake, home of the historic Monhonk Mountain House, lies just to the north on private property. The park is managed by OPRHP and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. The Mohonk House is located some 15 to 20 miles from the closest fire.
Sullivan County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance to the Wurstboro fire in Mamakating at 1:25 pm. At 4:55 p.m., the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) requested the assistance of New York State Forest Rangers with the Napanoch fire, then about 15 acres in size.
Due to the remote and rugged terrain, NY State Police Aviation was called in to help with bucket drops at both fires.
By 10 am Sunday, dozens of local firefighters had joined eight Rangers, including DEC volunteer firefighters, two State Police helicopters, and OPRHP staff in fighting the fires.
On Tuesday the Napanoch fire was estimated at approximately 130 to 150 acres and Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the deployment of the New York Army and Air National Guards, along with a number of other resources.
Two Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with three-person crews, capable of dropping 600 gallons of water at a time, have begun aerial operations, while a contingent of five firefighters from the Air National Guard have been deployed.
State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers, in cooperation with Ulster County, are serving as Incident Commanders. Hochul also said that more than 200 wildland firefighters and volunteers were now fighting the fire.
Additionally, 20 Canadian firefighters from Quebec, secured through the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact, are set to arrive on Thursday. The Compact, established in the 1940s, provides the means for its member states and provinces to cope with fires that might be beyond the capabilities of a single member through information, technology and resource sharing (mutual aid) activities.
New York State Police Aviation, which has flown two helicopters since Sunday, report they have dropped approximately 120-180 300-gallon buckets of water per day. Each of the two National Guard Black Hawk helicopters have dumped 12 buckets of water every hour, a total of 24,600 gallon buckets, since being deployed, Hochul said.
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has also dispatched the State’s Incident Management Team and several emergency communications experts to provide further support. The State Office of Fire Prevention and Control activated the State’s Fire Mobilization and Mutual Aid Plan and Fire Operations Center to ensure the timely coordination of additional resources.
Minnewaska remains closed until further notice. No residences are impacted at this time. Out of an abundance of caution to protect residences close to the Napanoch Point fire, DEC Forest Rangers and staff volunteers have been working with a bulldozer in the town of Warwarsing near Berme Road to put a contingency fire line in place.
A community meeting will be held at the Ellenville Junior/Senior High School Auditorium at 28 Maple Avenue in Ellenville today, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. This will be an opportunity for residents and others in the impacted area to ask questions about the coordinated fire response.
On Friday, NYS Forest Rangers responded to a fire in the area of Lonesome Bay on Lower Saranac Lake. Caused by a lightning strike, the fire was considered a single-tree torch that burned 10 feet of ground around the tree. Rangers declared the fire out at 2:30 p.m. the following day.
New York State is closely monitoring the weather conditions as a front moves into the State from the west. While some rain may be expected, the amount of rain is not anticipated to have a significant impact and could lead to unfavorable conditions including high winds and lightning strikes.
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.
All campfires and open burning are currently banned in Mid-Hudson Region State Parks. Check parks.ny.gov for more information.
The New York State Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) is encouraging 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:
- Use existing campfire rings where possible.
- Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass, and leaves. Pile extra wood away from the fire.
- Clear the area around the ring of leaves, twigs, and other flammable materials.
- 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.
This story was updated at 3:40 pm, Wednesday.
Photos, from above: The Napanoch Point fire in Minnewaska State Park; the bulldozer-built fire line at the Mamakating fire, and the Mamakating fire from above (provided by NYS Forest Rangers).
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