Warren County

Campfire causes Adirondack wilderness fire


JOHNSBURG — State forest rangers spent several days this week in the remote Siamese Ponds Wilderness in the Adirondack Park extinguishing a wildfire caused by an improperly extinguished campfire, the state Department of Environmental Conservation reported.

The fire, named the Stockholm Brook fire, was reported Monday, and was about a half-acre in size, DEC said. While the fire was controlled and equipment removed by state police helicopter on Thursday, DEC rangers are expected to keep checking the location over the weekend.

The fire was located in the town of Johnburg, in the northwest corner of Warren County. The Siamese Ponds Wilderness is the largest in the southeastern Adirondacks, emcompassing 114,000 acres in Warren and Hamilton counties.

When camping in the backcountry, DEC advises the public to use existing campfire rings where possible, to clear the fire area and build fires away from overhanging branch slopes, logs, dry grass or leaves, never leave a campfire unattended, drown the fire with water to extinguish it, and make sure all embers are wet.

While there have been historically large wildfires in the West this summer, wildfires occur occasionally in the Adirondacks, and this summer has been unusually dry.

Scott van Laer, an Adirondack forest ranger who represents the rangers’ union, which has called for major rangers to be assigned to Adirondacks, said people need to be careful with campfires. He noted the park is entering one of its busiest times in terms of visitors, with fall foliage season. The increase in visitors in general over the summer — building on a trend that has been going on for years — has increased the number of search and rescue operations DEC conducts in the Adirondacks.

“The leaves are peak in High Peaks and rangers are stretched really thin right now,” van Laer said in a message Saturday morning. “We had 3 rescues in High Peaks yesterday so we are starting a busy Saturday already fatigued.”

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