Crews Trying To Keep Orangeburg Blaze From Spreading To Nearby Homes

ORANGEBURG, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Firefighters kept at it Friday, waging war against a brush fire that has burned nearly 50 acres in Rockland County.

The blaze began around 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Clausland Mountain in Orangeburg. With wind gusts of more than 30 mph, it quickly spread.

“We had 18 departments, 150 guys trying to knock this down and three air units dropping water,” Orangeburg Fire Chief Neil Lynady said. “It’s a rarity. I’ve been doing this 32 years and never seen anything like this.”

Only a narrow road separates the woods where the fire is burning and a long row of houses. If the wind picks up, the flames could jump over, fire officials said.

“You can see there’s a dead zone and the perimeter encompasses the whole mountain,” said homeowner Susie Nordstrom. “It looks like there’s a football field lighting up the night sky.”

“We’ve been watching it ever since, up all night waiting to see if it spread,” homeowner Ivy Kagan said. “Very, very nerve-racking.”

Firefighters said a lack of hydrants and very rough terrain pose serious challenges.

“There’s no trails, no fire roads, it’s just woods,” Orangeburg Fire Commissioner Joe Sassano said. “We’re climbing over trees, over rocks, going up cliffs, going down valleys.”

A brush fire burns at Clausland Mountain in Orangeburg, NY on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

A brush fire burns at Clausland Mountain in Orangeburg, NY on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

“This is one of the worst ones we’ve had in this area in recent years,” Orangeburg Fire Assistant Chief Chris Jackson said. “Obviously, it’s a forest so there is a lot of fuel for the fire to burn as far as trees and leaves.”

Sassano said crews from about 30 fire companies are using shovels, rakes and other equipment to sift through areas that have already burned to make sure any remaining hot spots are put out.

The cause of the fire is unknown. No injuries have been reported.

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