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Massive brush fires blacken 17 acres in Gallatin

May 02, 2022 1:00 am

Bill Williams is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media two massive brush fires, burning at the same time, blackened almost 17 acres of woodland in Gallatin on April 29, said Taghkanic Fire Chief William Hilscher. Fifteen fire companies fought the fast-moving fires for more than seven hours and smoke from the fires could be seen for several miles along the Taconic State Parkway. The first fire ignited at about 1:11 p.m., on property at 59 New Forge Road, when a property owner was burning cardboard in a fire pit. The fire jumped the pit and spread into the woods, Hilscher said. The fire consumed a garage on the property, as well. When the Taghkanic Fire Company arrived, firefighters realized the scope of the blaze and officials immediately requested mutual-aid assistance from neighboring fire departments. All available manpower was requested to the scene, as well as brush-fighting equipment and utility task vehicles, which could maneuver through the wooded area. Just before 2 p.m., while crews were fighting the first fire, a second large brush fire was reported in the area of 852 New Forge Road #2. That fire was accidentally started by a company using logging equipment in the woods. A piece of that equipment may have struck a rock, causing sparks to start a fire in the surrounding leaves, Hilscher said. Wind was definitely a factor in both fires. “We’d get the fire out in one area, and the wind would just kick it up again,” Hilscher said. The National Weather Service in Albany had placed the area under an elevated brush fire risk that day and the day before, due to low relative humidity and gusty northwest winds. The fires were located about one-quarter mile off the road and spread much deeper into the woods, Hilscher said. The second fire was extinguished first, at about 5:22 p.m. after it blackened 2.3 acres, Hilscher said. The first, larger fire, was put out at approximately 7:52 p.m. That fire scorched 14 acres, Hilscher said. Fourteen fire companies assisted Taghkanic, as did the Northern Dutchess Paramedics, Greenport Rescue Squad, state police, and the Columbia County Fire Coordinator’s Office. New York's burn ban continues through May 14. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.