ELLENVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Napanoch Point Fire, which has been burning since last weekend, is barely visible from the ground but crews in the air have a bird’s eye view. The New York State Police Aviation Unit along with the New York Army National Guard have dropped around 24,000 gallons of water on the fire since Tuesday. Two State Police helicopters conducted around 110 bucket drops Thursday.
So far, according to State Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus, the fire is around 40 percent contained. Due to more accurate mapping, the Napanoch Point fire is now an estimated 163 acres. “We’re hoping to get 100 percent containment either tomorrow or the day after,” Mecus says. “Containment just means we have a good defensible line around the whole fire and then we have to control it and make sure that fire can’t escape those lines and that will take several days after that.”
For crews on the ground, the rugged terrain, thick vegetation and shear weight of their gear can make for slow progress. “The vegetation type, especially on the Shawangunk Ridge is very thick and it has a lot of volatile fuels that are prone to burning in the first place,” Mecus explains. “They have ladder fuels that bring the fire from the ground up to the crown of the pines which makes it very dangerous to work in.”
Firefighting efforts are being led by State Forest Rangers with the help of around 200 firefighters, including 20 from Quebec, Canada. No homes or businesses are impacted by the fire, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Rainfall earlier in the week helped slow some of the fire but much of the Hudson Valley, according to Ranger Mecus, remains dry. “The KBDI Index, which measures drought conditions and the fuel moisture in the vegetation on the ground is at just over 600 now which is very, very high for New York State. That’s a number more typical for out west.”
Minnewaska State Park Preserve remains closed to all visitors at least through Labor Day weekend. Anyone with reservations for Saturday, Sunday, or Monday will be notified and refunded. All visitors must follow these closures.
Officials said regular updates on the status of the fire response will be posted on the Ulster County Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. For general questions or concerns, you can call the Ulster County Service Center at (845) 443-8888, Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.