Thunderstorms not enough to extinguish ridge fire

Thunderstorms and a tornado warning caused firefighters to call off their efforts to put out the fire on the Shawangunk Ridge Thursday, but it apparently wasn’t enough to send the fire itself packing.

Chief Cory Wirthmann of the New Paltz Village Fire Department reported around 5:30 p.m. yesterday that conditions were unsafe to continue fighting what’s he’s dubbed the Cragswood fire—referencing the nearest road to the remote section of the Mohonk Preserve that’s on fire—to continue overnight. However, significant progress was made and the fire—now believed to be involving 4.6 acres of woods, slightly less than was reported earlier in the day—was 70 percent contained when emergency workers went to seek shelter.

During yesterday’s effort, fire lines were cut and hoses were sent up the vertical ridge; Wirthmann said that this was an “aggressive plan” that was “executed without fail” by the volunteers and professionals on site. The chief praised the members of the various agencies for having “all worked seamlessly together in the field.” These include volunteer firefighters from New Paltz and five other departments, state and preserve forest rangers, state police and county emergency service workers.

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Cragswood Road and the Spring Farm trailhead will remain closed, and residents should be prepared for the sight and smell of smoke overnight. The firefighting resumed today.