September 21, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Welcomes Home Crew of New York Wildland Firefighters

TOP Governor Cuomo Welcomes Home Crew of New York...

Firefighting Team of DEC Forest Rangers and Staff Battled Two Northern California Fires


Photos of the Returning Rangers and Staff Are Available Here


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today welcomed home a team of 20 wildland firefighters from the ranks of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers and other DEC programs who helped battle and contain wildfires in Klamath and Plumas National Forests in California. The team of firefighters began their assignment in California on Sept. 9 and arrived back in the Capital Region last night.

"When communities and states need help, New York always steps up," Governor Cuomo said. "I'm proud to welcome back these courageous firefighters, who helped battle dangerous wildfires in California and who epitomize New York State's values of sacrifice and service to others."

The Lime Fire on the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County grew to encompass more than 1,800 acres and took hundreds of firefighters to contain. Officials believe the fire was sparked by a lightning strike on Sept. 4 and spread due to high winds. The Walker Fire also started on Sept. 4 at the Plumas National Forest and was the second fire the crew helped to support with suppression efforts. The fire is currently 97 percent contained and grew to 54,600 acres in size. Since it started, a total of 1,073 personnel has been assigned to the Walker Fire and its cause remains under investigation. Additional information on these and other fires can be found at:

  • New York State's crew created control lines with hand tools and chainsaws and used intentional fire to contain the spread of wildfire and protect threatened homes. Responding New York crew members included:

  • Aimee Bills, Forest Ranger, Otsego County
  • James Canevari, Division of Fish and Wildlife,  St. Lawrence County
  • Joshua Choquette, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware County
  • Shay Faulkner, Division of Operations, Allegany County
  • Rebecca Ferry, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Ulster County
  • Michael Giocondo, Division of Lands and Forests, Lewis County
  • Daniel Kinsley, Division of Materials Management, Onondaga County
  • Stephanie Larkin, Division of Fish and Wildlife, St. Lawrence County
  • Robert Mackenzie, Division of Lands and Forests, Dutchess County
  • Gary Miller, Forest Ranger, Hamilton County
  • Phillip Parlier, Forest Ranger, Orange County
  • Robert Praczkajlo, Forest Ranger, Essex County
  • Scott Sabo, Forest Ranger, Franklin County
  • Matthew Savarie, Forest Ranger, Lewis County
  • Nathaniel Shea, Forest Ranger, St. Lawrence County
  • Kevin Slade, Forest Ranger, Crew Boss, Ulster County
  • Mark Solan, Division of Materials Management, Washington County
  • Timothy Watson, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Fulton County
  • Daniel Welc, Division of Lands and Forests, Chenango County
  • Timothy Yeatts, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Onondaga County

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "I commend DEC's Forest Rangers and staff for their sacrifice and bravery over these past two weeks in helping to contain these wildfires and protect precious natural resources and communities. New Yorkers should be proud of the work our fire crews do to battle these blazes, which gives them expertise to fight wildfire here at home. For nearly 40 years, New York has stood ready and willing to assist our sister states in emergencies." 

In 1979, New York sent its first firefighting crew to assist western states with large wildfires. On average, one or two crews have been sent as needed to assist with wildfires every year since. In addition to helping contain the national wildfires and minimize damage, these crews also gain valuable experience that can be utilized fighting wildfires and managing all-risk incidents in New York.

All personnel and travel expenses for the New York crews are either paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to New York State based on a mutual aid agreement between states and federal land agencies.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office