Streams

Firefighters Battle Staten Island Fire

Monday, April 09, 2012

More than 200 firefighters continue to fight a five alarm-fire at the former Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. Fire officials say the cause of the fire was spontaneous combustion of piles of compost and mulch — all very dry from the lack of snow this winter.

The fire could burn for days, depending on wind and how much brush can be moved out of the way and wet down, according to a FDNY spokesman.

Fire officials added it could take another day before the fire is declared under control. They said no homes were in danger, but three firefighters did suffer minor injuries.

Governor Andrew Cuomo was monitoring the situation in Staten Island, as well as a brush fire in Suffolk County.

"I have directed state emergency response agencies to coordinate with local authorities in order to contain the fires and help protect New Yorkers and their property," the governor said in a statement Monday night.

The Staten Island Advance says the fire Monday jumped across the West Shore Expressway, forcing its closure for a time due to visibility issues. Major traffic problems also affected the Staten Island Expressway and side streets.

Beryl Thurman, president of the North Shore Waterfront Conservancy of Staten Island, was on her way to Fresh Kills when traffic on Victory Boulevard slowed to a crawl. She parked her car and she walked up on to an overpass above to Staten Island Expressway to get a better view

"All you could see was this really kind pinkish brown smoke in the air. It was so think at one point, it blocked the expressway," she said. "There were cars on the expressway that couldn't go through it because they couldn't see."

Smoke was visible from many points around Staten Island.

Firefighters also were tackling a separate brush fire on the borough's East Shore, in the Gateway National Recreation Area.

Meanwhile, firefighters on eastern Long Island were battling brush fires fanned by strong winds.

Suffolk County Police say fires were still burning in Ridge and Manorville early Monday evening. One firefighter was hospitalized with minor burns and two were treated for smoke inhalation. Firefighters from over 100 departments from Suffolk and Nassau counties responded to the blaze.

Residents in parts of Riverhead have been ordered to evacuate as plumes of smoke could be seen for miles.

According to the Suffolk County Executive Office, three sides of the fire were contained by 7:30 p.m. Monday night.

The governor said he had placed the National Guard fire team in Suffolk County on standby to be ready to support firefighting efforts.

Officials at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton say a fire was reported on the northern portion of the massive complex. Approximately 2,000 acres, including 300 acres on the Brookhaven Lab site, were reported burning.

Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone's website says 10 homes in Riverhead suffered fire damage and a commercial building was destroyed. Bellone was at the scene working with state and local officials.

The lab says its sewage treatment plant was evacuated as a precaution.

Earlier Monday, a brush fire damages parts of a park in Melville, in eastern Suffolk County.

The National Weather Service had issued a warning because of strong winds and low humidity.

Cuomo said, "We will continue to monitor the situation through the evening and deploy whatever resources and take whatever action necessary to contain the fires."

Brigid Bergin contributed reporting.

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