New York: wildfire in Sam’s Point Preserve

Map Ellenville Fire

Above: The red and yellow dots represent the locations of heat detected at 1:50 p.m. on April 25, 2016 by a satellite over the wildfire that is burning two miles southeast of Ellenville, New York.

(UPDATED at 11:08 p.m. EDT, April 28, 2016)

This will be our last update for this wildfire southeast of Ellenville, NY unless something very unexpected occurs.


(UPDATED at 3:25 p.m. EDT April 27, 2016)

Firefighters have mapped the Sam’s Point Fire just southeast of Ellenville, New York and are now calling it 1,574 acres. It was slowed Tuesday by damp weather after being very active on Monday. Today will be sunny and drier with the relative humidity dropping to 29 percent by late afternoon. That and the 6 to 8 mph winds out of the west combined with a Haines Index of 5 could result in more fire movement this evening.

Approximately 226 personnel are assigned to the fire.

The fire is being managed by a Type 2 Incident Management Team, Kevin Slade (NYS DEC DFP) and Jim Prunoske (NYS DHSES IMT).

Sam's Point Fire,
Sam’s Point Fire, April 25, 2016. NYS DEC photo.
Sam's Point Fire,
Sam’s Point Fire, April 24, 2016. NYS DEC photo.


(UPDATED at 8:10 p.m. EDT April 26, 2016)

As of Tuesday morning the Sam’s Point Fire had burned 2,000 acres in Ulster County 21 miles west of Poughkeepsie. The fire was very active Monday afternoon with 35 to 40-foot flames rapidly chewing up an additional 1,200 acres. The fire is on land managed by Minnewaska State Park.

According to News12, fog and rain today, Tuesday, are helping firefighters.

The Ellenville, New York Fire Department apparently does not often have to deal with large vegetation fires like the one currently burning in Sam’s Point Preserve. According to the TimesHerald-Record they are asking for donations.

Anyone who has a chainsaw they do not use or need and would like to donate it, is asked to bring it to the Pioneer Fire Company, 73 Center St., in Ellenville on Tuesday. Also, the Rolling V Bus Company on Canal Street in Ellenville is doing a “Stuff the Bus” drive for the firefighters from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday. Items such as water, socks, toilet paper and work gloves are needed.

It is depressing that a fire department has to beg for these items.

Below, photos from Sunday and Monday:


(Originally published at 6:36 p.m. EDT April 25, 2016) 

A wildfire that has been burning since April 23 in Sam’s Point Preserve just southeast of Ellenville, New York has grown to about 800 acres. The fire in Ulster County 21 miles west of Poughkeepsie is being fought by about 110 personnel from thirteen local fire departments, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, and NY State Parks. Two helicopters operated by the State Police have been dropping water on the blaze, 250 gallons at a time.

According to the Governor’s office, the fire is being managed by the State Incident Management Team, which integrated into the State Forest Rangers, and an a Structure Protection Group.

fire Ellenville
Fire near Ellenville, at approximately 5 p.m. April 25. Photo by Jorja Roman.

New York does is not often presented with the challenge of suppressing large wildfires. The state apparently has a unique system that, if one is to believe literally the press releases, the Governor either chooses to or is required to become involved in making management decisions about staffing the incidents. Or perhaps the Governor just likes to have his name associated with mitigating an emergency.

Last year in early May the Roosa Gap Fire in the same general area, about 5 miles south of Ellenville, burned over 2,400 acres. That was the first time in recent memory that an air tanker had been used in the state.

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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.

7 thoughts on “New York: wildfire in Sam’s Point Preserve”

  1. Thanks for the post and the updates Bill. I appreciate the map too. Been trying to find maps showing the affected area. I know it’s a moving target, but so far yours is the only one I’ve seen.

  2. Two choppers is a bad joke to a wildfire that of this size and location. My taxes should be better served considering the resources of New York State. Like in war hit it hard and fast with maximum water drops.

    1. This area is made up of fire adapted (and very flammable) mountain top pitch pine with huckleberry and blue berry understory and pitch and rhododendron in the draws. TNC has been prescribed burning up there in partnership with the state for the past 10 years or so. This area needs fire back in it but every time we get one you have the governor and every 2bit politician jumping in to get in the way. Every single one of these fires has had serious injuries take place to protect (?). From the state’s report on the the Roosa fire they had last year “Not a single residence was burned, and no one was killed. A few injuries occurred on the fire line, but everyone survived.”. In 2008 one of those few injuries was a guys leg getting ripped off in a dozer track. The “like in war hit it hard and fast” mentality is what putting hundreds of untrained, unequiped (no ppe/shelters/radios) local structure firefighters at serious risk every year on these fires that burn themselves out in 4 days (raining in Elenville today).

      1. I understand what u r saying about sometimes you need to let these fires take their own course. But this isn’t Yellowstone and this fire wasn’t started by a lightning strike. This was some ass that started this. Just like the fires that are usually started around here.

        1. I am not trying to suggest that we should be managing wildfires for resource benefit in the Gunks. However, there needs to be a move away from the mindset that wildfires are catastrophic disasters and must be fought at all costs. Local volunteer departments don’t have the resources or time to invest in training for wildfires (that are fairly uncommon in the region) so sending untrained folks into a wildfire with the same mindset as if they were saving a baby from a burning building is a recipe for more unnecessary and serious injuries on wildfires that don’t threaten life or property.


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