Local firefighters called as brush fires spark in Brookhaven woods

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Wading River firefighters head into the woods in Yaphank about 6:45 p.m. to access a brush fire that was burning there.

Volunteer firefighters from about a dozen departments were kept busy Monday battling three brush fires that broke out around the same time in Brookhaven Town.

The largest fire burned for about two hours and covered some 15 to 20 acres of woods in Yaphank before firefighters brought it under control about 7:30 p.m., officials said.

At its peak, black smoke could be seen rising from the woods and filling the sky from miles around.

The Yapank fire broke out about 5:30 p.m. just north of the Long Island Expressway and just west of the William Floyd Parkway. Local firefighters from Wading River, Manorville and Rocky Point joined seven other departments to help battle the fire.

“With the winds blowing, it’s whipping it up pretty good,” Yaphank Fire Department chief Chris Austin said from the scene, as firefighters still worked to contain the blaze, adding that so many departments were called to Yaphank because of the threat of the fire spreading rapidly from high winds.

Firefighters were utilizing vehicles called “stump jumpers,” among others, to access the wooded areas. Stump jumbers are former military vehicles retrofitted so that firefighters can access off-road areas and clear trees and debris as they drive, officials said.

Fires also broke out Monday in Mastic and on the Brookhaven National Lab property in Upton, also about 5:30 p.m., Mr. Austin said.

Other fire departments that responded to the Yaphank fire included Ridge, Manorville, Hagerman, Middle Island, Bellport and Farmingville.

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PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Firefighters used these former military vehicles to access the blaze.
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Yaphank firefighters get ready to head into the woods.