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A major brush fire erupted in Rockland County, New York, on Friday, April 14th, causing damage to several homes and consuming tree lines. The blaze quickly spread, fanned by strong winds and dry conditions, and firefighters from numerous local departments were called to the scene to contain the flames.
The fire broke out in the early afternoon in the wooded area near Old Haverstraw Road. and quickly spread to nearby homes. Firefighters from several local departments worked tirelessly to battle the blaze, efforts were hampered by the high winds and difficult terrain.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but officials believe that it may have been sparked by an ember that was kicked up by a freight train.
According to Supervisor Howard Phillips, via his post on the North Rockland Community Facebook group: “A CSX train came through the town of Clarkstown, Stony Point and Haverstraw (Village of Haverstraw & West Haverstraw). It appears as though the train was dragging or a wheel was locked, causing sparks to fly all along the route through these municipalities, creating dozens of brush fires which the Volunteer Fire Departments and Town Police Departments are responding to.”
Reports indicated that Highway 304 had been closed approximately two miles south of the command post for this incident. By 3:30 p.m., what had been a massive blaze had been contained to a few remaining hotspots and areas of scorched earth. There were no immediate reports of injuries, several volunteer firefighters who left their homes to protect their neighbors suffered heat exhaustion and required treatment at the scene.
As the fire raged on, some residents were urged to leave their homes immediately and seek shelter at a nearby community center.
This story will be updated as Rockland News learns more information.