Ulster County forest fire may take several more days to put out

CRAGSMOOR, N.Y. (WABC) -- A stubborn wildfire in Ulster and Sullivan counties is now 80 percent contained after three days.

More than 2,000 acres have been scorched as hundreds of firefighters work to bring the fire under control. Helicopters are being used to scoop water from lakes to drop on the blaze.

Officials said it may take several more days to get it totally under control.

About 50 homeowners evacuated Monday evening as strong southerly winds pushed the fire, which is in the Cragsmoor and Walker Valley areas, north near Route 52. Thirty homes were saved, and residents have since been allowed to return.

The fire began around 11:30 a.m. Sunday off Shawanga Lodge Road and Fire Tower Road in Mamakating. Officials suspect it was started by a homeowner burning debris outdoors, in violation of a statewide burn ban.

It may look like smoke, but there's fire on the mountain. For three days, flames have spread throughout the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest which spans Sullivan and Ulster counties.

For locals, the magnitude of the fire is a curiosity and a concern.

Fighting fire with fire is how more than 250 volunteer firefighters and forest rangers have been working to contain the spread of flames.

Meantime, State Police and National Guard Blackhawk helicopters have made hundreds of runs scooping up water in so called Bambi buckets from nearby ponds. It's an aerial assault that will likely go on for several more days. It is currently 80% contained.

There is a shelter open at the Walker Valley Fire Department located at 3679 Route 52.

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