Wind-Fueled Brush Fires Continue To Wreak Havoc On L.I.; NYC, Southern N.J. Also Battling Flames
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Several major brush fires continued to burn Monday night in different parts of the Tri-State Area. Among the most serious is a fire in Suffolk County, where officials spent the evening coordinating efforts with state authorities and the National Guard.
“I have placed the National Guard fire team in Suffolk County on standby to be ready to support firefighting efforts,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
Strong winds and dry air continued to make for a dangerous combination. The situation remained serious Monday night as at one point more than 200 homes had no power. The fire also prompted road closures and caused interruptions to LIRR trains.
1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr reports from Riverhead
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said three firefighters were injured responding to a brush fire near the Brookhaven National Laboratory. One firefighter suffered a minor burn, while two others were treated for smoke inhalation.
At one point, firefighters from 109 departments in Suffolk County responded to the brush fire that has affected about 2,000 acres, including 300 acres on the Brookhaven Lab site.
Fires also continued to burn in Ridge and Manorville on Monday evening. Ridge Fire Chief Steve Gray said the two blazes that began there morphed into one.
“Once it gets into the tree tops it burns a lot faster than it does on the ground,” Gray told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey. “The fire had burned past us fast enough where we couldn’t get there in time.”
“It’s still an unpredictable situation. We had hoped earlier that the fire was coming under control, but it’s clear now that it’s still burning heavily and that this is still a dangerous and unpredictable situation,” Bellone said at a news conference.
Ten homes in the Riverhead area also suffered damage and firefighters were dispatched to bring those fires under control, officials said. Two residential homes and one commercial building in the area were destroyed.
“We have all resources that are on the scene coordinating with all the various agencies,” Bellone told 1010 WINS.
Mandatory evacuations also took place in some parts of Suffolk County and the Riverhead Senior Center was established as an emergency shelter.
Will Boulier and his family were evacuated. Police pulled up to their home as they secured their farm animals.
“You get a little nervous, you watch out, but as long as you know you have an escape route…that’s all that matters,” he told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez.
Meanwhile, a five-alarm fire continued to burn on Staten Island in the area of the old Fresh Kills landfill.
Firefighters said that the fire would continue to burn until the winds, which featured gusts of 45-60 mph, die down, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported. There have been no reported injuries or homes threatened in that area.
1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck Reports From Staten Island
It was not the brush that was on fire, but rather a compost fire that can start on its own without an igniter, the FDNY said, adding that the wind helped spread the flames.
The Staten Island blaze also continued to snarl the West Shore Expressway Monday night. The expressway was closed in both directions near Victory Boulevard around 1 p.m., as nearly 200 firefighters worked to put out the flames.
Traffic on the Staten Island Expressway and side streets was also impacted. Earlier, three firefighters suffered minor injuries battling a four-alarm fire at two adjoining buildings in West Brighton.
In New Jersey’s Burlington County, a massive brush fire that ignited around around 1 a.m. threatened two-dozen homes in Tabernacle and Woodland Township.
Fire officials lit a backfire in an attempt to keep the blaze away from the homes and by the afternoon 50 percent of the fire had been contained.
The blaze is being investigated as suspicious because of the remote area where it originated and other natural sources of ignition, including lightning, were ruled out, according to New Jersey Forest Fire Service officials.
Officials said as many as 1,000 acres could be affected by the fire, which has been named the “South Park Wildfire.” It is the second major brush fire in New Jersey in less than a week.
Earlier Monday, nearly 250 firefighters battled wind and flames as they tried to knock down a six-alarm fire on Ringwood Avenue in Wanaque, located in Passaic County.
1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reports from Wanaque
The blaze, which broke out around 12:30 a.m., destroyed two buildings and displaced six families, 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reported.