A fire started by a 40-year-old man in the Ulster County town of Shandaken at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 25 burned five acres of Catskill Forest Preserve before being doused by 20 fire companies and police agencies, according to a press release from the town of Shandaken Police.
The fire was started by Nicolaus G. Wynberg, a Phoenicia resident, at the residence of a friend in Woodland Valley, police say. Wynberg has been charged with negligently starting a forest fire, a state environmental violation.
Shandaken is one of New York state's designated "fire towns," where burning is heavily regulated throughout the year because of the high risk of sparking forest fires. (See a full list of New York's fire towns, which includes many in the Catskills counties of Sullivan and Ulster, here.) A burn ban is in effect for rural areas of New York state until May 14 to prevent wildfires.
Within 20 minutes of being set, the blaze in Shandaken was “completely out of control,” according to the press release.
The fire burned about five acres of forest on the south face of Garfield Mountain in the the Catskill Forest Preserve, police say. Woodland Valley is a small community that is home to trails that lead to popular Catskills hikes like Slide Mountain and Giant Ledge.
Twenty local fire companies and police agencies, including the New York City Department of Environmental Projection’s Aviation division, battled the fire for 6 hours, eventually getting it under control by 6 p.m., police say.
Brush fires are sparking across the Catskills and Hudson Valley this week.
The largest, a fire at the Sam's Point Preserve in the Ulster County town of Ellenville, began on Saturday, April 23 and had burned 800 acres by Monday, April 25, creating a plume of smoke that was visible for miles across the Hudson Valley.
Above: The Sam's Point Preserve fire on Monday, April 25, shot from Cragsmoor. Photos by Avery Jenkins.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed over 100 emergency responders to Ellenville to fight the fire, according to a press release issued by the governor's office on Monday.