Dry Air, Strong Winds Fuel Brush Fires in Southern New Jersey, Staten Island & Long Island
Strong winds and dry air were making for a dangerous combination on Staten Island, Long Island and southern New Jersey, where officials are tentatively labeling Monday’s large fire suspicious.
Ten homes in Riverhead caught fire early Monday evening, CBS 2 has learned.
Brush fires were also burning near the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Ridge, Long Island. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told 1010 WINS three firefighters were injured battling that blaze.
Meanwhile, a five-alarm fire continued to burn on Staten Island in the area of the old Fresh Kills landfill.
Firefighters said that the fire would continue to burn until the winds, which featured gusts of 45-60 mph, die down, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported. There have been no injuries or homes threatened in that area.
It was not the brush that was on fire, but rather a compost fire that can start on its own without an igniter, the FDNY said, adding that the wind helped spread the flames.
The Staten Island blaze also snarled the West Shore Expressway on Monday afternoon. It was closed in both directions near Victory Boulevard around 1 p.m., as nearly 200 firefighters worked to put out the flames.
Drivers remain cautioned to expect heavy traffic delays throughout the evening along the entire West Shore Expressway, from Brooklyn to New Jersey.
A red flag warning is in effect for most of the region until 8 p.m., as the combination of low relative humidity values and gusty winds continue to cause major problems.
Traffic on the Staten Island Expressway and side streets were also impacted. Earlier, three firefighters suffered minor injuries battling a four-alarm fire at two adjoining buildings in West Brighton.
In New Jersey’s Burlington County, a massive brush fire that ignited around around 1 a.m. threatened two dozen homes in Tabernacle and Woodland Township. None of the homes were damaged as of Monday evening.
Fire officials lit a backfire in an attempt to keep the blaze away from the homes and by the afternoon 50 percent of the fire had been contained.
The blaze is being investigated as suspicious because of the remote area where it originated and other natural sources of ignition, including lightning, were ruled out, according to New Jersey Forest Fire Service officials.
Officials said as many as 1,000 acres could be affected by the fire, which has been named the “South Park Wildfire.”
It is the second major brush fire in New Jersey in less than a week.
Earlier Monday, nearly 250 firefighters battled wind and flame as they tried to knock down a six-alarm fire on Ringwood Avenue in Wanaque, located in Passaic County.
1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reports from Wanaque
The blaze, which broke out around 12:30 a.m., destroyed two buildings and displaced six families, 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reported.