Fire breaks out on Mohonk Preserve

(Courtesy of the New Paltz Fire Department)

Firefighters are working to extinguish a blaze that is burning in a difficult-to-reach part of the Mohonk Preserve as of Thursday morning, and are hopeful that some expected rain showers will aid in that effort.

New Paltz Fire Chief Cory Wirthmann checked out reports of smoke on the ridge that were received just before 3 p.m. on Wednesday. He determined that the source was somewhere west of Cragswood Road, which was closed but for local residents; the Spring Farm trailhead was also closed.

It took a lot of cooperation even to figure out the best way to access the area: town highway and village public works employees, county emergency service personnel, rangers from the preserve and firefighters from Tillson and New Paltz worked to find a place to begin scouting the location and a drone was needed to pinpoint the blaze. Five acres of the preserve along the ridge was determined to be afire, and additional support was called in: state forest rangers and environmental protection officers, state troopers in helicopters and firefighters from Highland, Gardiner and Modena all responded. Representatives from the Preserve and nearby Mohonk Mountain House were also involved in the response.

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“Area residents may see and smell smoke throughout the day,” Wirthmann wrote in a statement released around 9:30 this morning. The brief rain shower will help in the suppression efforts, which have at times included dropping water from above, but the chief anticipates that they will be working to extinguish the fire throughout the day.