- With the concentrated efforts of all 109 fire departments on Long Island, as well as assistance from the Air National Guard, the flames have finally been extinguished.
The air was thick with black smoke on the East End. (Courtesy Photo: Local Fire Department Personnel)
With more than 1,000 acres burned, the Manorville Fire Department was the first to respond to wildfires that began on Monday, April 9, 2012, north of Brookhaven Lab that raged through the Pine Barrens area of Ridge and Manorville. The fire began around 3 p.m., fueled by high winds and lack of ground moisture
The aftermath has seen the destruction of nine structures, including three homes, and an on-going investigation as to the cause of the fires which led Governor Andrew Cuomo
to declare Suffolk County a state of emergency on Tuesday afternoon, after viewing the devastation.
More than three dozen families that were evacuated have now been allowed to return home to begin a massive and emotional clean-up.
Three fire fighters were injured in this Herculean attempt by volunteers to control the fires, two for minor injuries, and one Manorville fire fighter released today from Stony Brook University Hospital after being treated for second and third degree burns.
All trains are back on schedule, and previously closed roads are now open.
Consisting of more than 100,000 acres, fires in 1995 consumed more than 9,000 acres of the Pine Barrens, and policies put in place following those fires, as well as 9-11, allowed fire fighters to handle the situation in a more collaborative and focused manner with better communication and efforts.
Following his tour of the area on Tuesday, Governor Cuomo held a news conference, stating "It could have been a lot worse - the response was better this time. I am declaring Suffolk County a state of emergency, which allows more flexibility financially, and after seeing the damage it is well merited in this case."
With wildfires being battled across numerous states this week, as well as Staten Island and Rockland County, the governor also stated, "It is a function of Mother Nature - dryness and lack of rain have contributed to these fires."
Along with Suffoly County Executive Steve Bellone and and the governor, New State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle also attended Tuesday's news conference.
We are all once again reminded of the extraordinary bravery and compassion for their fellow man that these volunteer fire fighters have shown - thank you, thank you, thank you!
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Ridge Wildfires looking across Wildwood Lake. (Denis G. Yuen)
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.