2012 Most Devastating year in Recent History for Homes and Structures Lost

April 3, 2013

2012 NY Wildfire Season:

  The 2012 Wildfire season was particularly busy due to the lack of significant snowfall and the prolonged periods with lack of precipitation. The NY Forest Rangers and Fire Departments throughout the state responded to 4,523 wildfires consuming nearly 2,100 acres. Three wildfires burned greater than 100 acres with the largest being the Manorville fire in Eastern Long Island that burned 980 acres of pitch pine-scrub oak thicket. Unfortunately during this fire an engine crew was burned over when their engine became immobilized driving through the thick brush and trees. All three firefighters from the Manorville Fire Department survived the burnover with minor to severe burns.

2012 was also the most destructive wildfire season for loss of structures in almost a century, with nearly 70 structures lost.  In one day at the Tammarack fire in Ulster County, fourty two structures were destroyed including two permanent residences. The wildfire was contained at 52 acres but the cause of the wildfire was residential brush burning that ignited an old hotel resort, and eventually spread to the seasonal bungalows near the resort.  Large devastating wildfires in the Wildland/Urban Interface accounted for a majority of the structures lost, however, throughout the state smaller wildfires destroyed garages, outbuildings, and other structures as well, with many more structures that were threatened but not destroyed.

Due to the extraordinarily dry period NY experienced during the summer of 2012 the Governor passed emergency regulations to extend the no open burning period that is annually observed from March 15th to May 15th.  The emergency regulations started in early July and extended until the 15th of October, this extension highlighted the awareness that NY residents and officials have to the potential for devastating human caused wildfires.