Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Fire and Emergency Services Coordinator Chris Kear confirm Route 9W will remain closed through Sunday afternoon due to falling trees and rocks from Friday’s countywide brush fires.
“Crews remain busy extinguishing very minimal hot spots that have been popping up Saturday morning, mainly in the Congers section of Clarkstown,” said County Executive Ed Day. “We ask that Rocklanders remain vigilant to any new brush fires no matter how small and call 911 if observed. Hopefully we will get that promised rain this afternoon to help us with what remains.”
On Friday at around 2:15 p.m. about two dozen brush fires broke out from Congers to Tompkins Cove that preliminary reports indicate were ignited by sparks from a CSX train. The fires consumed 50 to 70 acres across the County while damaging four homes in Congers from the heat melting siding, two sheds were destroyed, and several fences and vehicles were also damaged.
The County of Rockland thanks all 26 volunteer fire departments and mutual aid received from Orange, Bergen, and Westchester counties, in addition to New York State agencies, which had fires under control by about 5:30 p.m.
“These fires escalated very fast across Tompkins Cove to Congers and we called in a ton of resources immediately,” said County Fire and Emergency Services Coordinator Chris Kear. “All the agencies responded quickly and worked very well together getting things under control in a timely manner. We are grateful for such a quick response by our volunteers from Rockland and beyond.”
Friday evening the focus shifted to extinguishing the flames along the mountains of Route 9W. The Rockland County Sheriff’s Office deployed drones with infrared cameras that assisted helicopters conducting water drops from above. Flames on the mountain have significantly died down overnight and no water drops will be necessary Saturday.
Once firefighters extinguish remaining hot spots Saturday along Route 9W New York State Department of Transportation crews will remove down trees and clear the roadway. As a result, Route 9W will be closed from Short Clove Road/New City Road, also known as the rock cut, until Route 304 in Congers (See picture attached) through at least Sunday afternoon. Orange and Rockland Utility crews also remain on scene Saturday to replace more poles.
No residents sustained any injuries, five firefighters suffered heat exhaustion, and one sustained a minor burn to their hand. All were evaluated at the scene and did not need transport to a hospital.
CSX has since reopened all train traffic through Rockland County at a reduced speed through the Village of Haverstraw area.