Fire on the mountain

Dec 31 2013 | 03:37 AM



What started with a campfire that wasn’t properly put out turned into a wildfire that smoldered for over a month, burned 140 acres of woods and engaged 25 firefighting companies. For those who watched Mt. Eve light up night after October night, it felt like a witnessing our own little bit of history.

But this fire wasn’t a first, nor will it be a last. Those who’ve lived here long enough will remember that Mt. Eve burned in the late eighties. That time, too, people parked their cars along a cow fence to watch -- as man has been doing (minus the cars) since the beginning of time. The eastern Hudson Valley has been burning since before we were around to fail to heed Smoky Bear. Before lighters, before matches, lightning did the job.

“We even have a different forest type,” said Forest Ranger Captain Dan Walsh, of the NYS Department of Conservation, who fought both the last two fires on Mt. Eve. “It has evolved in response to frequent fires.” Our tree species, like cartain oaks and pines, actually require the heat of a fire to activate the seeds from underneath their cones, he said.

“It will happen again in 10 or 20 years, I guarantee it,” said Walsh.