A forest fire that has been burning on Hunter Mountain since Thursday, May 7 is still burning, but has not jumped its containment line, said New York State Forest Ranger Rob Dawson on Tuesday May 12.
In a sign of confidence that the Hunter Mountain fire is indeed under control, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has re-opened the hiking trails in Hunter that have been closed since Friday, May 8 because of the blaze, according to DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson.
The number of acres consumed by the fire is now 133 acres, Dawson said. A team of forest rangers managing the fire conducted a controlled burn on Monday afternoon, May 11, which has added to the acreage, he said.
"We did a little burnout up top to burn the fuels out," Dawson said. "Around the same time, the hot areas that are burning every day flared up."
Dawson said that the controlled burn was intentional.
"It's all growing within our containment line," he said. "Due to the terrain, we're limited to where we can put the containment line, and there are locations where there is unburned fuel. We were looking to burn that fuel."
The controlled burn accounts for a sudden spike in smoke coming from the top of the mountain yesterday afternoon that was noticed by Hunter residents. Wind, which picked up in Hunter on Monday afternoon, also played a role, Dawson said, by fanning hot spots into flame.
Thirteen forest rangers are working the forest fire today, Tuesday, May 12, Dawson said. While the local Lanesville fire department continues to be involved in the blaze, forest rangers have taken primary responsibility for it on the ground, he said.
Today, forest rangers are watching the containment line as the fire continues to slowly burn up the mountainside, Dawson said.
Helicopter drops of water on the blaze have been suspended since Sunday, but the choppers are waiting on standby if they are needed, Dawson said.
But although the fire is under control, it is still burning. Hopes for rain have diminished today, Dawson said, and the forecast now calls for the wind to pick up again, which means that Hunter is in for another smoky afternoon.
"We have some more work in front of us," Dawson said. "These things are like a marathon."
Correction: The photo on this post was taken by Ariel Woolheater, not Douglas Senterman.