New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers were kept busy last week suppressing numerous wildfires around New York State as very dry conditions persisted and drove the Fire Danger to HIGH. Fires were reported in at least five towns in four counties, including in Clinton, Sullivan, Schoharie, and Albany Counties. The fires burned about 50 acres total including a large 30-acre fire that burned ion the town of Black Brook, Clinton County, for two days. At least two fires were caused by illegal debris burning despite the high danger for fire spread.
What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers.
Town of Black Brook
Wildland Fire: On May 15 at 6:45 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a wildland fire in Black Brook near the intersection of Turnpike and Goodrich Mills roads. Ausable Forks and Saranac Lake fire departments also responded to the 30-acre fire. Rangers and other firefighters sustained fire suppression efforts for several days. On May 17 at 6:45 p.m., the fire was declared 100 percent contained. The fire remains in patrol status.
Town of Neversink
Wildland Fire: On May 16 at 3 p.m., an individual in the Peekamoose Blue Hole area reported seeing a wildfire on “top of a mountain.” Forest Rangers and multiple fire departments, including Grahamsville and Woodridge, responded and determined the fire was in Neversink. By 6 p.m., fire crews had the fire contained to two acres. On May 18 at 5:20 p.m., the fire was officially declared out.
Town of Blenheim
Wildland Fire: On May 17 at 11:36 a.m., Forest Ranger Bowler and the Blenheim Fire Department responded to a one-acre fire on North Road in Blenheim. By 4 p.m., firefighters had the fire contained. Ranger Bowler determined the homeowner was burning brush legally, but the ash buried in the dirt rekindled and spread through the surrounding duff material.
Town of Berne
Wildland Fire: On May 18 at 2:47 p.m., A New York State Police helicopter spotted a wildfire in Berne. Forest Rangers were joined by Berne, Coeymans Hollow, East Berne, Huntersland, Knox, Onesquethaw, Rensselaerville, and Westerlo fire departments. By 5:30 p.m., fire crews had the 4.67-acre fire contained. On May 19 at 2 p.m., the fire was declared out. After interviewing the landowner and inspecting the property for evidence of ignition, no cause was determined.
Wildland Fire: On May 18 at 3:45 p.m., Sullivan County Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for a wildland fire on Plank Road in Forestburgh. Rangers and firefighters from Forestburgh, Huguenot, Hurleyville, Kauneonga Lake, Lava, Loch Sheldrake, Monticello, Port Jervis, Rock Hill, Smallwood, South Fallsburg, Sparrowbush, Swan Lake, and Woodridge fire departments had the 9.7-acre fire contained by 5:30 p.m. The cause of the fire was debris burning in an empty lot near the Swinging Bridge Reservoir. On May 20 at 4:25 p.m., the fire was declared out.
Photo: Aftermath of the wildland fire in Blenheim in mid-May 2023 (provided by DEC).