By Bill Demarest
ORANGEBURG – After more than two days of intense efforts by hundreds of volunteers, fire officials said Saturday afternoon that the sprawling brush fire that tore through the woods of Clausland Mountain is just about over.
Firefighters from Orangeburg and neighboring volunteer fire departments are checking the woods for a few remaining hot spots, but Rockland County Fire and Emergency Services Director Gordon Wren Jr. said that the crisis that started around 1:15 p.m. on Thursday has finally run its course. Wren, however, said firefighters, police and Rockland County park rangers will continue to closely watch the mountain through the weekend to ensure there is no further danger.
While the fire threatened homes on Greenbush Road in Orangeburg and Tweed Boulevard in Upper Grandview, efforts by volunteer firefighters on Thursday and Friday kept the fires from damaging any homes. Wren said volunteer firefighters also prevented fire from damaging vital emergency communication equipment that is based on top of Clausland Mountain at the former military base at Orangetown’s Nike Park.
No one was seriously injured by the brush fires but several volunteer firefighters needed medical attention during the battle against the fires. Several firefighters were treated for debris that got into their faces Friday morning on Tweed Boulevard and a Nyack volunteer firefighter was taken to Nyack Hospital for treatment of apparent dehydration and minor smoke inhalation. Wren also said a volunteer firefighter from New Jersey fell on one of the many steep slopes of Clausland Mountain on Friday and broke an ankle.
The Rockland County Technical Rescue Team, composed of volunteers from many different fire departments who are specially trained to reach victims in difficult terrain, went onto the mountain to rescue the injured New Jersey firefighter.
Volunteer firefighters from every Rockland County fire department were involved in some way with manpower and equipment in battling the Clausland Mountain fire, which burned several hundred acres of Rockland County and Town of Orangetown park land. Firefighters from several New Jersey and Westchester County fire departments were also involved in the effort or in taking standby assignments at local firehouses in Rockland County.