Hochul links ongoing wildfires to climate change

First responders have been battling to contain the blaze that has been burning in the Minnewaska State Park Preserve since Saturday. Governor Kathy Hochul visited the scene Thursday and provided an update on their tireless efforts.

Crews have been working on the ground for nearly a week in hot, dry conditions and steep terrain to bring the blaze under control. On Thursday, Hochul also thanked them for their hard work.

“You are all here,” Hochul said. “You are here because your state needs you.

Two hundred and seventy acres of forest have burned since a lightning strike sparked the Napanoch Point Fire in the park’s woodland reserve on Saturday.

More than 200 rangers, volunteers and firefighters from as far away as Quebec, Canada lent a hand to help put out the stubborn blaze, which started amid a severe lack of rain in the area.

National Guard Black Hawk and State Police helicopters also arrive from the sky. On Thursday, Hochul expressed concern that a wildfire of this magnitude could form at this time of year.

What do you want to know

  • Fire is now 20% contained
  • Minnewaska State Park Preserve will remain closed over the holiday weekend
  • More than 200 rangers, firefighters and volunteers are working to contain and control the fire

“Dry conditions which are very difficult, it usually happens much earlier in the summer. So for this to happen at this time of year is another one of those signs out there that it’s not normal. On the other hand, we ask ourselves: “What is still normal in a time of dramatic climate change?” says Hochul.

The dry conditions on the ground make it difficult to control the fire. It rose from around 30 acres on Monday to 270 acres on Wednesday and fell back to 160 acres on Thursday.

Fire is now 20% contained. No houses or structures were lost. To protect the houses closest to the fire, crews are working to establish a line of fire in the town of Warwarsing.

Authorities are also warning residents to be safe from fires across the region.

“If you have an outdoor fire of any type, you are absolutely responsible for putting it out completely. Don’t let the embers burn,” said Jackie Bray, commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “Things like smoking or using sparklers or anything like that, it’s a really bad time to have really hot things or flames of any kind.”

In what will be bad news for those planning to visit Minnewaska State Park this weekend, the park will be closed over the holiday weekend.

Park officials say they will monitor conditions and reopen the park once the fire is out.

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