Un gran incendio forestal devoró acres en tres ciudades del condado de Rockland, lo que llevó a los residentes a evacuar las casas cercanas.
Black smoke was visible for miles as fire rapidly consumed property off Old Haverstraw Road, one of multiple fires that sprung up during the afternoon. Officials said the flames started in the town of Stony Point before moving south along the west side of the Hudson River to Congers. Stony Point Supervisor Jim Monaghan said that flames shot up 30 to 40 feet in the air at certain times, and that a good amount of the town was left covered in heavy smoke and ash.
Chopper 4 was over the scene, capturing frantic homeowners watching helplessly as intense flames licked fences around their properties. The heat from the fire melted at least one fence, but thanks to an army of volunteer firefighters from as far away as Mahwah, New Jersey, nothing more valuable was lost. Some used backyard garden hoses pulled to their fence linings to douse approaching flames as best they could.
A few houses appeared to suffer minor damage as the fire was intensifying during the afternoon, but no homes were lost — and more importantly, neither were any lives. A handful of residents, including a 98-year-old woman, fled their homes as the uncertainty of the unfolding fire grew.
The fire was said to be under control by the evening hours, though there were hotspots popping up throughout the night in Congers, as firefighters anticipated a long night to prevent the fires from returning.
The train tracks seen running in the area are freight tracks and county officials said later in the evening that a train run by railroad company CSX shot out sparks as it moved along, sparking the fires. Train traffic was temporarily halted on the route.
«If they have a malfunction on the train, they should have stopped the train instead of dragging it through three towns and causing fires in three towns,» said Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann.
CSX said that they inspected the train in the area and did not report any issues. The railroad company said they are cooperating with county officials, though some residents in the area want a public face-to-face meeting with the company to see how they plan on addressing the issue.
No injuries were reported, but a number of the volunteer firefighters — some leaving their own homes to protect their neighbors — were said to have suffered heat exhaustion. They were treated at the scene.
The fires did come at a high financial cost for the three towns impacted, as hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent dousing the flames. Gov. Kathy Hochul said that the state has deployed resources to help Rockland and Orange counties combat the brush fires.
Friday’s fire concerns come on the heels of red flag warnings for New York, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut. Though the National Weather Service let those expire, it warned the fire threat lingered at least through Friday night.
Check the latest weather alerts here.
New Jersey was hit particularly hard as wildfires erupted across the state this week in Brick, Howell Township, West Milford Township, Teaneck and elsewhere. No injuries were reported in any of the cases, but firefighters described exhaustive scenes and, in one case, a 200-foot wall of flames hampering efforts to fight a Manchester Township fire.