Dryden, N.Y. — The fast response of about a half-dozen Tompkins County fire departments helped prevent a brush fire in Dryden on Monday from becoming much worse.

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The Varna Fire Department was called to the scene at the 500 block of Ringwood Road around 2 p.m. on Monday. With the help of several other emergency response agencies, they were able to limit the damage to about three acres.

“With what we had, it was great having all the mutual aid readily available to us,” says Varna Fire Chief Vincent Monticello, whose fire department was the lead agency on the call.

“The amount of people who came out— it was fantastic, and it was why we were able to stop the fire from spreading and greatly reduce the amount of damage to the property.”

Photo courtesy of Monticello

Arriving on scene, crews found that the flames had spread over an approximately 400-foot area. (There wasn’t fire across 400 feet, but about that much had been burned and much of it was continuing to burn.)

That led crews to be concerned that the brush fire could turn into a much more dangerous forest fire. But the crews were able to extinguish the fire in about 2.5 hours.

Todd Bittner, director of natural areas at Cornell Plantations, praised the response from fire crews in a statement.

“Their quick and effective response limited what could have been catastrophic damage to the natural area and local community,” said Bittner on the plantations’ blog page.

“As a result, no one was injured, no structures were lost and less than five acres were burned.”

Photo posted on Cornell Plantations’ blog page
Photo posted on Cornell Plantations’ blog page

Chief Monticello listed the following agencies as helping extinguish the blaze:
— Varna Fire Department
— Etna Fire Department
— Dryden fire
— Dryden ambulance
— Freeville fire
— McLean fire
— Slaterville fire
— Brooktondale fire
— Cayuga Heights fire
— State police
— The DEC
— Forest rangers

Monticello said the cause is still being determined. The area that was burned is privately owned.

Monticello said he also wants to remind residents that a New York State Burn Ban is in effect until May 15.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.