Wildfires burned more than 25 acres in six Upstate New York counties over the past week, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The wild land fires were the latest of dozens of fires started by inattentive campers, illegal brush burning and other causes that have rapidly spread in unusually hot and dry conditions across the state. One fire spread into Hudson Highlands State Park; another burned in the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.
Among the numerous wildfires DEC Forest Rangers have responded to in recent weeks was a 1.6 acre fire in Poestenkill, Rensselaer County, NY. The fire, which was reported around 3:40 pm on Tuesday, May 30th, was burning multiple log piles producing extreme heat and 40 foot flames. No structures were threatened. By 6 p.m., the efforts of seven fire departments had contained the fire, which was the result of a bonfire not fully extinguished nor in a proper fire pit. One ticket was issued for failing to clear flammable material around a fire.
On Thursday, June 1 at 1:57 pm, Forest Rangers Booth and Bronson responded to a fire on Sheldon Lane in Chazy, Clinton County. Rangers issued two tickets to the 68-year-old landowner for burning debris without clearing three feet around the base of the fire and setting forestland on fire. The 1.3-acre fire was declared out at 2:45 p.m. on June 3.
At 4:14 pm on June 1, Forest Ranger Nahor discovered a wildfire on North Shore Road in Hadley, Saratoga County. By 10:30 pm, four Rangers had the fire 50 percent contained. The following night at 8:10 p.m., Rangers declared the 3.5-acre fire fully contained. Due to the dry weather, the fire continued to burn almost a week later, producing significant smoke. Three Rangers continue to put out hot spots.
On June 1 at 4:33 pm, Delaware County requested Forest Ranger assistance with a wildfire near State Route 268 in Hancock. Ranger Ellis arrived approximately an hour later and joined multiple fire departments in assessing the six-acre fire. Rangers Bink, France, and Seeley also responded. By 8:05 p.m., fire crews had the fire contained; due to some hotspots, the fire remains in patrol status.
On Friday, June 2 at 8:30 pm, Forest Rangers were called to a wildfire near the Garrison train station in Putnam County. The fire was burning between a trail and the Hudson River and spread to Hudson Highlands State Park. Cold Spring, Garrison, and North Highlands fire departments had the fire under control by 10 pm. Overnight, the fire grew from one acre to 1.5 acres. At 4:11 pm, the fire departments, Rangers, and staff from New York State Parks and State Park Police had contained the fire once more.
On June 2 at 9:26 pm, Warren County requested Forest Ranger assistance with a wildfire on Waddell Road in Johnsburg. Five Rangers responded to the 11-acre fire at the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest and adjacent private land. Due to the steep terrain, Rangers employed an indirect attack and burnout operations to mitigate threats to the containment line.
On June 5 at 4:48 p.m., the fire was fully contained. The cause of the fire is believed to be a lightning strike.
Due to current dry conditions in New York, much of the state has been designated at a HIGH risk for fires. A high fire danger means all fine, dead fuels ignite readily and fires start easily from most causes, including unattended campfires. Fires may become serious and their control difficult unless they are attacked successfully while small. For the current fire danger map, warnings, and more information, click here.
Photo of the Hadley wildfire provided by DEC.