Friday, September 30, 2022

Minnewaska Wildfires Contained

After eight days of backbreaking work, officials have contained the wildfires in the Minnewaska State Park.

Forest Rangers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation took over incident command and worked in conjunction with local fire departments, Ulster County officials, and numerous state agencies. The Army National Guard provided Black Hawk helicopters while the New York State Police utilized additional choppers. Twenty firefighters from Quebec arrived last Thursday to help battle the blazes.

Three separate wildfires were burning on the Shawangunk Ridge, including a larger fire at Napanoch Point and additional fires at Stony Kill and Wurtsboro.

The fire at Napanoch Point is believed to have started on Saturday, August 27, 2022 as a result of a lightning strike. The fire quickly spread to encompass 142 acres within the park. Some rain received overnight Tuesday helped to slow the fire spread and allowed firefighters to create fire break lines. By Thursday night, the fire was 40 percent contained. By Friday night, firefighters had it 75 percent contained.

Officials report that the emphasis over the coming days will be to address the areas of heat to achieve full control of all three fires. A prolonged period of flooding rains is forecast today and tomorrow. If meteorologists are correct with the forecast, the rain will likely extinguish the remaining fires and thoroughly soak the area.

Major General Raymond Shields, the Adjutant General for New York State, oversees the Army National Guard, which dumped 129,000 gallons of water from their helicopters. “Our soldiers and airmen are happy to have played a part,” Shields noted.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basin Seggos added, “This containment is great news for Minnewaska and surrounding communities and I thank DEC’s Forest Rangers and the hundreds of other emergency responders who worked day and night to successfully combat this fire.”

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