The fire, which started just before noon on Sunday in the Town of Mamakating, has affected more than 1,700 acres of the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest.
Fire officials say the lone survivor on an elite Arizona firefighting crew was on a hilltop serving as a “lookout,” and was in charge of relaying key information to his colleagues.
“We’re devastated. We just lost 19 of the finest people you’ll ever meet,” said Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo. “Right now, we’re in crisis.”
The National Weather Service said gusty winds, along with humidity levels as low as 20 percent, mean there is a “great potential” for wildfires in the area through the day.
In April, wildfire broke out in Manorville and it took many long days to get it under control.
State officials are warning campers and boaters of a high fire danger and low water levels in the state due to hot weather and a lack of rain over the past 10 days.
“This is a fire-dependent ecosystem. It has to burn to survive,” said Richard Amper of the L.I. Pine Barens Society.