Cuomo Declares State of Emergency in Suffolk County

April 10, 2012 Updated: April 17, 2012
Epoch Times Photo
Smoke from a blaze at the former Fresh Kills landfill is seen from the Victory Boulevard overpass overlooking the West Shore Expressway on Monday. (Staten island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel)

NEW YORK—Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Suffolk County on Long Island in order to activate state resources in fighting a large brush fire there, one of three that continue to burn in southeastern New York as of Tuesday evening. Firefighters were busy Monday night and Tuesday extinguishing widespread fires at Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island and in Suffolk County on Long Island.

Blazes ignited in multiple locations in Manorville, Long Island, and the surrounding area on Monday. A portion of Brookhaven National Laboratory was among the buildings damaged. The fire affected approximately 1,000 acres Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told local publication Riverhead Patch Tuesday morning.

Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine estimated 50 residents were evacuated, according the Riverhead Patch.

“It’s pretty much all farms out here. Everybody tries to help each other out,” Oscar Garcia told the Patch.

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Firefighters contain a wildfire that started in a wood compost at the former Fresh Kills landfill, on Tuesday in Staten Island. The wind-fueled fire delayed traffic in the borough for hours, but no injuries have been reported. (Todd Heisler-Pool/Getty Images)

He avoided evacuation when the wind shifted, diverting the fire from his home. He helped house neighboring horses.

The fire destroyed at least two residences and one commercial building. One firefighter sustained burns, but is doing well.

“This is the worst fire Suffolk County has seen since the Pine Barrens fires of 1995,” Executive Bellone said in a statement released Monday evening. “I want to thank our volunteer firefighters and our entire first responder community from both Suffolk County and Nassau County for everything they are doing.”

Late Tuesday morning, firefighters got the blaze under control. Helicopters dumped water over hotspots, and authorities continued to monitor the region.

The cause of the fires is under investigation, but the dry weather and high winds are a deadly combination. The region was under a high fire alert for days preceding the fires.

A helicopter from the state’s National Guard has been used to track the fire in Suffolk County.

Officials were alerted to a fire at Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island around 11 a.m. on Monday.

The mulch fire likely combusted spontaneously due to dry weather, but an investigation is underway, reports the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). It is not unusual for mulch to combust, reported an FDNY spokesperson.

A six-alarm and a four-alarm blaze broke out at Fresh Kills in September of 2010, according to a CNN report.

Monday’s five-alarm fire drew 200 firefighters, and was brought under control just after 4 a.m. on Tuesday. As of Tuesday evening, 10 units were still monitoring the site. Sanitation trailer offices and a couple pieces of equipment sustained damaged.