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Firefighters say they have mostly contained the brush fires that burned across more than 1,000 acres in Suffolk County, injuring firefighters and destroying homes. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.
Firefighters have mostly contained the brush fires that burned across more than 1,000 acres in Suffolk County on Long Island, injuring firefighters and destroying homes, as well as a blaze in an upstate park, officials said.
Helicopters dumped large buckets of water on hotspots Tuesday, and officials said that was key to controlling the flames.
"We have largely contained this fire," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. "We have prevented what could have been a significant disaster."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited some of the damaged areas on Tuesday and echoed those sentiments.
"It really could have been a lot worse," said Cuomo. "All the ingredients were there for a real tragedy."
What started Monday as two separate brush fires in Ridge and Manorville merged into one large fire by that evening, officials said. Wind gusts of up to 45 mph and dry conditions throughout the region helped spread the flames.
Bellone said investigators were working to determine the cause of the fires, which were fought by 35 fire departments.
In Manorville, at least three homes and a commercial building were destroyed after being engulfed by the flames.
No one was injured, but for Kathleen Moretti and her family, the fire damage to their Manorville home of 25 years was overwhelming.
"It's mind-boggling," she said. "Just mind-boggling."
The burning land on Long Island included hundreds of acres at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory. The lab spans a 5,265-acre site in the Pine Barrens region of Long Island. No lab buildings were reported damaged.
Shortly after officials announced they had "largely contained" the massive fires on Long Island, state park rangers said they had set up a containment line around a separate fire that had erupted in Rockland County.
No homes were damaged or threatened by the fire in Harriman State Park, which also started Monday afternoon. No injuries were reported.
The parks department said fire crews burned off natural fuel within the area to help contain the blaze.
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