This Weekend: See the lighting of the fire towers and earn your badge

Above: The lit-up Berry Hill fire tower in Chenango County near Norwich during the 2013 lighting of the fire towers event. (The Berry Hill tower isn't one of the five Catskill fire towers that will earn you a badge, but it sure is pretty.) Photo by Warren Johnsen.

There's no weekend like this weekend to hike up a Catskills fire tower. Not only can you earn one of our coveted Catskill Fire Towers badges if you do (see details here or below), but you'll also get a rare treat: the sight of a fire tower cab glowing from within.

Once a year, the volunteers who maintain the Catskills fire towers hike lights into the cabs at the top of the towers, making them visible for miles around.

The event is meant to commemorate the time when fire towers were staffed by lonely and intrepid fire tower watchers who stood vigil night and day, scanning for signs of fire.

From the event's organizers:   Read more

Historic Sidney roller rink burns to the ground

Above: A photo of the Hill Cest Roller Rink in the village of Sidney, New York, on fire late on Tuesday, August 26. Photo via the Delaware County NY Fire Wire & Emergency News Facebook page.

The Hill Crest Roller Rink, a nightlife institution for generations of Delaware County residents, burned to the ground in the village of Sidney on Tuesday, August 26. 

The building, a "very, very old" wooden structure located at 2181 County Highway 4, caught fire late in the evening, and was fully engaged quickly, according to Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond.

"The fire burned very hot," he said. "It burned right to the ground almost immediately."

The fire was called in at 11:30 p.m., said the building's owner, Tracey Chapman. 

Chapman was out of town on Tuesday night when he got the call that his business was in flames. He raced back to Sidney, and when he arrived it was clear that the roller rink had been destroyed.   Read more

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On the brink of a buyout, junkyard burns in Fleischmanns

Above: The VW Parts junkyard on fire in Fleischmanns. Photos by Julia Reischel.

The VW Parts building owned by infamous Fleischmanns junkyard operator William Hrazanek caught fire around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 26. The former junkyard, located at 717 Wagner Avenue, is in the process of being purchased with federal disaster funds as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) buyout program. 

"FEMA is going to tear it down anyway," said Hrazanek as he stood watching the flames. "It's less work for them."

The fire was in full swing at 5:30 p.m. A tall column of smoke loomed over a crowd of students who were watching the fire from the grounds of a yeshiva next door. Multiple fire departments were on the scene.  

Hrazanek said that he has no idea what started the fire, and that he was in the process of selling the contents of the building, mostly auto parts, to Euro Nutz Inc. in Saugerties.  He said that he believed that workers from Euro Nutz had been inside the building earlier today, but that when he arrived at the scene, the door was locked and the fire was in progress.   Read more

Police: Bloomingburg man went on rifle rampage at trailer park

Left: Dennis A. Albach. Photo via the New York State Police.

A 49-year-old Bloomingburg man has been arrested for drunkenly brandishing a rifle, firing shots, and destroying several car windows after a fight at the Twin Lakes Mobile Park in the Sullivan County town of Mamakating, according to New York State Police.

At 8:45 p.m. on Sunday, August 24, residents in the trailer park observed a drunken Dennis A. Albach begin an altercation with one of his neighbors, according to Trooper Steven Nevel, the public information officer for Troop F.

Albach tried to punch the man, then left the scene and returned a few minutes later with a rifle, Nevel said. 

Multiple neighbors heard what they described as gunshots, according to Nevel and a press release issued by the State Police today. They also reportedly heard the sound of glass breaking.   Read more

Stretch of Route 42 to close Tuesday

A short section of Route 42 in the town of Lexington is scheduled to be closed on Tuesday while a private bridge is installed, according to the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT). 

Route 42 will be closed from Spruceton Road to Beech Ridge Road, from 6 am to 6 pm, on Tuesday, August 26. 

The installation of the private bridge will be done by a 275-ton crane. The work is not being done by the DOT. 

During the closure, truck traffic will be detoured. Instead of using Route 42, trucks can take Route 23A to Route 214 to Route 28. Cars and emergency vehicles can use Beech Ridge Road as a local detour around the closed area. 

If rain delays the work, the closure will be scheduled for Wednesday, August 27. 

Heavy rains cause mudslide, flooding in Sharon

Above: A mudslide on Route 10 in the Schoharie County town of Sharon on August 21, 2014. Photo via the Schoharie County Fire Wire Facebook page

Heavy rains caused flooding and a mudslide in the town of Sharon in Schoharie County Thursday night, according to Sheriff Tony Desmond. 

A shale and slate rock embankment north of the village of Sharon Springs washed out around 9:30 p.m. on August 21, blocking Route 10 for about three hours, Desmond said. 

Route 20 in the village was also flooded, he said. "There was over a foot of water in the middle of town by the school."

The water drained away in a few hours, and the displaced gravel and debris was cleared away by 1 a.m. on Friday, Desmond said. There is some damage to the shoulders of the roads, which were open today.   Read more

Head-on crash kills one, injures four in Colchester

A head-on collision between two cars on Cat Hollow Road in the rural Delaware County town of Colchester claimed the life of a Nineveh man, and injured four Bronx residents, on Thursday morning. 

The crash occurred around 10 am on Thursday, August 21, when an Isuzu Amigo driven by 48-year-old William Sharpless of Nineveh collided with a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by 30-year-old Bronx resident Crest Wood.

Sharpless was driving south on Cat Hollow Road when his car was struck head-on by Wood's Jeep, which was driving northbound in the southbound lane, according to a statement from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office. The incident was investigated by the New York State Police Troop C Collision Reconstruction Unit and Delaware County sheriff's deputies. 

Sharpless was declared dead on the scene by Delaware County medical examiner Richard Ucci. He had no passengers in his car.   Read more

Lightning strikes Fleischmanns church

Above: Pastor Adrian Todd looks out of a broken window in the bell tower of the Fleischmanns United Methodist Church on Thursday, August 21. The windows were blown out when lightning struck the building that morning. Photo by Larry Dunlap.

Lighting struck the bell tower of the United Methodist Church in Fleischmanns at 8:45 a.m. on August 21, blasting off siding and blowing out six windows.

"Somebody said it sounded like a bomb went off," said Adrian Todd, the pastor of the church, which is also known as the Fleischmanns Community Church. "It was loud."

Todd wasn't at the church at the time of the strike, but several people were driving by and witnessed it.

"The windows blew out just as they were right in front of the church," Todd said.

The windows were plain glass, not stained glass. Todd said that the church's insurance company is investigating and determining whether it will cover the damage. 

There were no injuries. Todd said that the tenants who live in the adjacent building were not affected.

Volunteers helped clean up the shattered glass off the church lawn yesterday, and today the broken windows are covered with plywood.

The church building dates from 1884, and as far as Todd knows, this is the first time it has been struck by lightning.

Is there a theological explanation?  Read more

This Weekend: Prattsville's MudFest

Above: Muddy fun at Prattsville's MudFest. Photo via MudFest's Facebook page. 

In August 2011, tons of mud from Tropical Storm Irene's massive flooding swept through the town of Prattsville. Now every August, the town commemorates the disaster with a giant mud-themed party. 

Prattsville's MudFest is now in its third year, and features mud volleyball, a mud obstacle course, a mud tug-of-war and a mud horseshoe tournament. There are prizes in both cash and alcoholic form. (The horseshoe tournament requires the submission of an alcoholic beverage upon entry, and the winner takes home the "beverage pot" in addition to a cash purse.)

Hay rides, a bounce house, a craft fair, and food and T-shirt vendors round out the fun, which takes place on the town green and is free. 

Prattsville's MudFest. Saturday, August 23. 14527 Main St., Prattsville. For more info, see the MudFest's Facebook page.  Read more

This Weekend: Pig Mountain

Above: A promo photo for the Pig Mountain Pig Roast and Veggie Fest in Narrowsburg on Saturday, August 23. Via the Pig Mountain website.

Main Street Narrowsburg plays host this Saturday to an all-out celebration of local food, the Pig Mountain Pig Roast and Veggie Fest.

As the name implies, the headliner is pork: specifically, a herd of 15 roasted pigs prepared by a herd of 15 high-profile chefs. 

The chefs include local favorites, like Paul Nanni of Narrowburg's own The Heron restaurant, and NYC imports like Lauren Resler of Mexican restaurant Empellon and Cesare Casella of Italian restaurant Salumeria Rosi. (Apparently, all the flatlander chefs are bunking summer-camp style with each other for three days to prep.)

Don't like pork? The one-time $35 entry fee will get you access to an entire street of food vendors, including some slinging veggies of many varieties.

It's a fundraiser, so a portion of the proceeds go to helping the Center for Discovery, which runs adult and pediatric rehabilitation programs for disabled individuals and has its own farm.

Pig Mountain Pig Roast and Veggie Fest. Saturday, August 23, 5 - 9 p.m., Main Street, Narrowsburg. $35 tickets.