Deployment Includes Two Black Hawk Helicopters Capable of Dropping 600 Gallons of Water at a Time, as well as Contingent of Firefighters
State Forest Rangers Leading Multi-Agency Incident Command of State, Local, National Guard, and Quebec Assistance in Responding to Fire’s Spread
Video of National Guard Conducting Aerial Fire Suppression Operation Available Here
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the deployment of the New York Army and Air National Guards, along with a number of other resources, to further support fire suppression efforts at the 130- to 150-acre wildfire currently burning in Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Beginning today, two Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with three-person crews, capable of dropping 600 gallons of water at a time, have begun aerial operations, while a contingent of five firefighters from the Air National Guard have been deployed. State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers, in cooperation with Ulster County, are serving as Incident Commanders, and more than 200 wildland firefighters and volunteers, including Rangers, local fire response resources, and staff from DEC, Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, New York State Police Aviation, and State Fire are fighting the fire.
Additionally, 20 Canadian firefighters from Quebec, secured through the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact, are set to arrive on Thursday. The Compact, established in the 1940s, provides the means for its member states and provinces to cope with fires that might be beyond the capabilities of a single member through information, technology and resource sharing (mutual aid) activities.
“As wildfires continue to rage through Minnewaska State Park, I urge every New Yorker to take sensible precautions to keep themselves and their families safe,” Governor Hochul said. “I thank all of our brave first responders, partner agencies and neighbors who are working around the clock to protect our communities.”
The Shawangunk fire complex consists of three fires in the region and the response is being led from the Napanoch incident command. The Napanoch Point fire in Minnewaska State Park Preserve started over the weekend as a result of a suspected lightning strike and is 130 to 150 acres. A smaller fire approximately two miles east of the Napanoch Point fire, named Stony Kill, was detected yesterday and is approximately 0.68 acres. The Wurtsboro fire in the town of Mamakating also started over the weekend and is approx. 70 acres.
Minnewaska remains closed until further notice. No residences are impacted at this time. Out of an abundance of caution to protect residences closes to the Napanoch Point fire, DEC Forest Rangers and staff volunteers will soon be working in the town of Warwarsing near Berme Road to put a contingency fire line in place. A community meeting will be held at the Ellenville Junior/Senior High School Auditorium at 28 Maple Avenue in Ellenville today, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. This will be an opportunity for residents and others in the impacted area to ask questions about the coordinated fire response.
Since the fires began, a coordinated effort of state and local resources has been on the ground attempting to suppress the fires. Firefighters are working in a joint unified command led by State Forest Rangers. Forest Rangers have significant experience in incident command and fire prevention strategies due to their extensive training and cooperative wildland firefighting missions to other states. Additional multi-agency resources include New York State Police Aviation, which has flown two helicopters since Sunday and dropped approximately 120-180 300-gallon buckets of water per day. Each of the two National Guard Black Hawk helicopters have dumped 12 buckets of water every hour, a total of 24,600 gallon buckets, since being deployed. The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has also dispatched the State’s Incident Management Team and several emergency communications experts to provide further support. The State Office of Fire Prevention and Control activated the State’s Fire Mobilization and Mutual Aid Plan and Fire Operations Center to ensure the timely coordination of additional resources.