Wildfire on New York City’s Staten Island

NYPD helicopter dropping on brush fire
Who KNEW, until today, that the NYC Police Department helicopters had water-dropping capability. Photo: FDNY

More than 200 New York City firefighters earlier today were working two brush fires, one of them being a six-alarm incident and another one five alarms. The fires were at Great Kills Park, which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The largest fire started at 2:40 and was controlled at 10 p.m.

In some areas the fire burned through phragmites, a cattail-like plant that grows in wet areas and burns like California brush if a wind is pushing it.

Staten Island fire
You gotta love that full turnout gear on a vegetation fire. Photo: FDNY

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

4 thoughts on “Wildfire on New York City’s Staten Island”

  1. Photos which tell a great story at:


    I saw that one and thought, “Hmmmm…great place to use a road flare to light a back burn, and I think those guys are gonna get toasty…”

    Pages 7 & 8 show the intensity the phragmites burn with. And one of the later pages shows E254’s guys in full bunkers the next place they made a stand 🙂

    There’s good photos of the NYPD helicopter on an earlier page, too.

  2. Well knock me over with a feather, I wouldn’t have guessed NYPD had buckets either!

    New York State Police & Massachusetts State Police both provide water drops for wildland fires (and their state National Guard units will use Blackhawks for even larger bambi buckets).

    Connecticut State Police discontinued using their bambi bucket for reasons not clear to me a few years ago, and with budget cuts the helicopter is essentially mothballed today.

    Maine & NJ maintain their own aviation capacity in their wildland fire organizations, while AFAIK VT, NH, and RI have no capabilities without seeking out-of-state mutual aid.

      1. Bill,

        Here in MN I have found that GR 8 does a good job modeling flame lengths for Phragmites (Phrag).

        I have seen photos from the NY area where the homes lawns ended 50 ft from the back of the house in a wall of phrag 20 ft tall. On a sunny spring day before green up with 1 hrs in the 5-6% range phrag will wilt you pretty quick with the radiant heat.


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