State Has Deployed Resources to Respond to Fires in Rockland, Orange, Schoharie and Otsego Counties
Annual Prohibition on Residential Brush Burning in Effect to Prevent Wildfires
Governor Kathy Hochul provided an update on brush fires burning across New York. The Governor has deployed a multi-agency response in collaboration with local first responders and continues to provide resources and respond to fires in Rockland, Orange, Schoharie and Ostego counties, among several other communities.
"Given the dry and warm conditions over the past few days, we have seen an increase in wildfires in multiple counties and are responding quickly," Governor Hochul said. "I encourage all New Yorkers to stay vigilant and thank all our first responders, partner agencies, and neighbors who are working to contain these fires and protect our communities."
Dry weather and lack of green vegetation resulted in dangerous conditions that fuel wildfires. In the last week alone, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers, New York State Police Aviation, local fire departments and trained volunteers responded to nearly 20 wildfires that burned more than 400 acres in communities across the state. Video footage available here: Richmondville Fire; Blooming Grove Fire; Shinhollow Fire.
Officials from the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' (DHSES) Office of Emergency Management and Office of Fire Prevention and Control remain on the ground in Rockland, Orange, Schoharie, and Otsego counties to support response and resource coordination, including the deployment of generators to support operations in Orange County. Additionally, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control has opened the State Fire Operations Center and activated the state's Fire Mutual Aid Plan. This will allow for the delivery of additional firefighting resources from communities statewide upon request.
Rockland County – Haverstraw Beach and Hook Mountain
The initial fires were divided across three areas: Conger, Stony Point, and next to the railroad. The Conger Fire is under control and assets are being released, but hot spots remain. Westchester County helicopter continues to drop water on it. Stony Point Fire is nearly out and responders continue to hit remaining hot spots. Fires along the railroad are out. The area will be reassessed tomorrow morning. The structures that were reportedly on fire were a residence, a shed, and fencing. Train traffic still stopped.
Orange County - Blooming Grove and Deer Park
There are two fires in Orange County. The fire in Blooming Grove is slow moving and has burned approximately 85 acres with 65 percent contained. State agencies are on site and first responders are aiming to have the fire 100 percent contained by end of operations today. Eighteen fire departments are responding from within the county and four out-of-county fire departments are assisting. Round Hill Elementary School was closed today as a precaution due to smoke conditions.
The fire in Deer Park has burned approximately 150 acres and is currently 75 percent contained. Four local fire departments in the county are assisting as well as one from Pennsylvania. First responders expect to have the fire fully contained by tomorrow afternoon, depending on the weather.
Schoharie and Otsego County - Richmondville
The Richmondville fire is contained. The Incident Command Post closed at 6 p.m. tonight and State Forest Rangers will continue to patrol the fire to ensure it stays contained and mop up hot spots. Trains are still required to travel between 10 to 15 miles per hour out of an abundance of caution to prevent sparking additional fires.
Ontario County - Springwater
The Springwater fire at Old South Bald Hill Road has burned 50 acres. Local officials have this fire 98 percent contained.
New Yorkers are reminded that the annual statewide ban prohibiting residential brush burning lasts through May 14. Open burning of debris is the single-largest cause of spring wildfires in the state. DEC enforces the annual brush burning ban to prevent wildfires and protect communities during heightened conditions for wildfires. For more information, go here. The Fire Danger Map for the 2023 fire season can be found on DEC's website and is updated with the latest fire conditions.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "DEC's elite crews of Forest Rangers and trained volunteers are responding to wildfires across the state, and with our local firefighters, are putting themselves in harm's way to protect our homes and natural resources. New York State thanks everyone responding, particularly the volunteers, for their hard work. This weekend and every day through May 14, I implore all New Yorkers to respect the prohibition on brush burning and help keep our first responders and communities safe."
New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "Our Offices of Emergency Management and Fire Prevention and Control are engaged with our state and local partners as we work to suppress these fires as quickly and safely as possible. To further these efforts, we have activated the State's Fire Mutual Aid Plan and opened the State Fire Operations Center to give impacted communities a greater ability to access firefighting resources from other localities statewide."
State Police Acting Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said, "State Police are standing by to provide whatever resources are necessary to help control the fires. Over the last several days, our Aviation Unit has been engaged in bucket drops and observational flights and we will continue provide assistance until the fires our out and the public is safe."