Golden’s Bridge firefighters responded to an aggressive brush fire along Todd Road Wednesday evening that damaged an estimated 12 acres of wetlands.
Working with firefighters from eight other departments, the Golden’s Bridge Fire Department battled menacing flames that darted as high as 60 feet before containing and extinguishing the raging brush fire, preventing it from spreading to nearby houses, according to Golden’s Bridge Fire Chief James McManus.
The Golden’s Bridge Fire Department responded to a 6:45 p.m. alarm, which was triggered by multiple emergency 9-1-1 calls from area residents, who reported a large brush fire on the northern side of Todd Rd. in the Lewisboro hamlet of Golden’s Bridge.
“When we arrived on the scene, the fire had consumed approximately three-quarters of an acre,” McManus said. “High winds were causing the brush fire to grow rapidly and move fast. Within minutes of our arrival, it developed into a raging inferno, spreading to about eight acres and becoming a very real threat to homes in the immediate area. To contain the perimeter, we had to assign an immense amount of manpower.”
As a precaution, he said, three homes were evacuated. Todd Rd. was closed in both directions until the fire was extinguished and passage was deemed safe. Firefighters fully extinguished the fire at around 8:30 p.m., but remained on the scene for fire watch until 10:00 p.m. to make sure the fire didn't start up again.
The brush fire spread along the stretch of Todd Rd. between Butternut Lane and Mount Holly Rd. – a swath of ground that is mostly wetlands.
“It was an uphill battle for the first 60 minutes because it took time to access the fire and we weren’t on solid ground. We were fighting a fire in a literal swamp in four feet of mud,” McManus explained. “It may seem unlikely that a fire could start in muddy wetlands. However, this is fertile ground for a brush fire, exacerbated by the strong winds that were spreading embers.”
More than 20 members of the Golden’s Bridge FD responded to the scene. All told, 75 firefighters, including those from fire departments that responded as mutual aid requested by McManus, deployed thousands of feet of hose. In addition to the Golden’s Bridge FD, apparatus involved in the operation included the fire departments of Croton Falls, Somers, South Salem, Vista, Bedford Hills, Katonah, Millwood and Banksville.
“Multiple hoses were operative simultaneously, utilizing master streams that are capable of deploying large volumes of water in a short amount of time, which is vital to this type of operation – particularly in efforts to contain a rapidly spreading fire,” McManus said. “The first goal was containment, getting control of the fire, to prevent it from spreading any further so that we could manage and extinguish the fire.”
He continued, “It was a tremendous volume of fire that could be seen through the trees approaching from Flintlock Ridge Road.”
While battling the fire on the northern side of Todd Rd., the fire jumped and began burning on the south side of the road, resulting in McManus dispatching fire trucks and manpower to protect houses in the event the fire spread to nearby structures.
“We thank all fire departments and their members whose mutual aid response was integral to this operation and its positive outcome, with no injuries and no damage to homes, property or apparatus.”
In addition, the NYS Police and Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps responded to the scene.
Although the cause of the fire is undetermined, McManus said that this time of year is peak season for brush fires.
“Very low humidity, shifts in barometric pressure – which cause turbulent winds – and decomposed leaves exposed to sunlight makes the perfect recipe for a brush fire,” explained McManus, who added, “which is why there is a burn ban in New York State – no rubbish or camp fires, for example – through mid-May.”