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UPDATE: Firefighters Continue To Battle Orangeburg Brush Fire

Update: According to fire officials, the work to put out the brush fire on Clausland Mountain in Orangeburg could last into Saturday.

Photo by Kenny Flynn
Photo by Kenny Flynn
Update at 4:45 p.m.

As sunset approached, firefighters were still trying to get northern part of the brush fire on Clausland Mountain in Orangeburg. The fire parts of the fire to the south, east and west were under control by 3 p.m.

Local officials including Rockland County Fire Coordinator Gorden Wren, Jr., Rockland County Sheriff Lou Falco and Orangetown Police Chief Kevin Nulty held a press briefing at Orangeburg Fire 

Wren said the fire spread enough to cover "several hundred acres" at one point Friday. Officials do not expect to have the fire completely extinguished by sundown, but they are hoping to have that last section under control by then. 

"Since this fire was reported yesterday afternoon, we’ve seen great cooperation, great professionalism, between the fire services and law enforcement with this incident," Nulty said. "It’s my understanding that no homes are in danger at this point and no homes were in danger. Fire departments will still be working on this fire for the next 24 hours and we’re hopeful for the rain Monday to finally put it out for good."

Wren said recent dry conditions contributed to the spread of the fire. He also cautioned residents to call in flare-ups of the fire overnight, especially near the edges.


Update at 2 p.m.

Orangeburg Fire Commissioner Joe Sassano said approximately 120 firefighters from 29 departments in New Jersey, Westchester county and Rockland County were fighting the brush fire on Clausland Mountain in Orangeburg as of 1:45 p.m. Friday.

"We’ve got it pretty much contained on the southeast side," Sassano said. "We’re focusing on the northwest corner here. In the next hour or so, they will retreat back to the roads and just deluge it with the helicopters to try to knock it down.

"All indications are we will be back up there tomorrow. With a fire like this, it's burns underneath. Unless you cultivate it, it doesn't get it."

Sassano said firefighters with shovels are digging up the dirt so they can get water into the ground. 

"It's a manual operation," Sassano said. "They are taking a beating."

The conditions make the fire difficult to completely put out, though it is no longer spreading quickly.

"We had some concerns last night, but we did not have a fast-spreading fire like you would in California, jumping trees and jumping roads," Sassone said."

There is a press conference scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Orangeburg Fire House in Orangeburg. 

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Update at 11:10 a.m.

Firefighters at the brush fire in Orangeburg are looking over aerial pictures of the blaze to determine the best course of action going forward. 

Two helicopters, one with the state police and one with the Westchester County Police Aviation, are resuming water drops on the fire. 

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Update at 10:12 a.m. 

County police report the blaze is causing smoke conditions throughout Westchester.

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Firefighters from over a dozen departments in Rockland County were working in a perimeter around the brush fire that continues to burn on Clausland Mountain in Orangeburg as of 9:45 a.m. Friday morning.

"Right now we are waiting for a helicopter to take an aerial view of what we have going on so we can figure out how to handle it," said Joe Sassano, a Commissioner and 30-year member of the Orangeburg Fire Department."We have firefighters surrounding the perimeter of the fire. We're waiting to find out a strategy."

The fire started at approximately 1 p.m. Thursday and spread quickly due to windy conditions and the large amount of leaves and trees for it to feed on. At least 15 volunteer fire departments responded Thursday, though all personnel were pulled back overnight for safety reasons. Helicopters from West Point Military Academy and Westchester County Police Aviation dropped water on the blaze to try to put it later in the day. Read more in this report on Patch

The fire spread close enough to threaten homes overlooking the Hudson River early Friday morning, but so far there are no reports of injuries or homes damaged.

"It did encroach on some people's property lines, but never actually put their homes in jeopardy," Sassano said. "It's like any other fire. It's going to spread to seek fuel, but it's not spreading to the point where people are in jeopardy or there is a call for evacuations."

The fire has caused heavy smoke in and around the area. There have been reports of the sight and smell of smoke as far away as Westchester County.

New City Fire Chief Kenny Flynn shared photos of the fire taken overnight from Tappan Zee High School. 
willie 6 November 15, 2013 at 04:20 PM
just had some ashes floating down from sky at High Avenue below Broadway North of Main Street.Thank's to ALL the Firefighters working diligently to contain Clausland Mtn. Brush Fire. We all need to be AWARE of Extremely dry conditions. my Humidity Gauge was at 35% Thurs. PM at 4:00 PM. Again thank's to all Responders for their Efforts.
Bill McCloskey November 15, 2013 at 06:28 PM
8 fire trucks just went up south blvd towards tweed. 6:30 pm

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