The air is thick with black smoke on the East End. (Courtesy Photo: Local Fire Department Personnel)
- More than 100 fire departments from both Suffolk and Nassau counties, and other areas, battled a blaze that began Monday, April 9, 2012, north of Brookhaven Lab and raged through the Pine Barrens area of Ridge and Manorville.
The Pine Barrens consists of more than 100,000 acres, with more than 2,000 acres thus far having been consumed by wildfires that have burned vegetation, property and homes - unfortunately reminding residents of the devastating fires in 1995 - that consumed more than 9,000 acres of the Pine Barrens.
The fire began around 3 p.m. Monday, fueled by high winds and lack of ground moisture.
This morning, Tuesday, Apirl 10, fire fighters appear to have contained the blaze on at least three sides, however, they have issued a "red flag" warning until 8 p.m. tonight. County Executive Steve Bellone has stated "The fire is contained but still burning and not under control. It did not move significantly."
With winds expected to increase later this afternoon, a decision may be made to use the Air National Guard, as forecasters have predicted scattered showers but no significant rain.
Presently, two homes and one business were destroyed by the flames and smoke. Three firefighters were injured - two treated for smoke inhalation and released and a third being held with second and third degree burns at Stony Brook University Hospital.
The American Red Cross set up a shelter at the Riverhead Senior Center, and residents are urged to check with local media with regard to road closings and traffic redirection. Presently, the State Department of Transportation has designated the HOV lane on the LIE (Exits 33 through 64 eastbound) for emergency vehicles only. Additionally, authorities urge residents to keep 911 free unless it is an absolute emergency.
Residents in sections of Manorville, Riverhead, Wading River and Accabonac have been evacuated, and for those with animals, including horses and pets, the SPCA is prepared to take animals for safe keeping.
Governor Andrew Cuomo
stated that the fires Long Island, as well as Staten Island and Rockland County are being monitored, "I have directed state emergency response agencies to coordinate with local authorities in order to contain the fires and help protect New Yorkers and their property," Additionally. "I have placed the National Guard fire team in Suffolk County on standby to be ready to support firefighting efforts. The National Guard has helicopter and other air based fire suppression equipment deployed in the area and ready to be activated if needed."
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Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.