Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fire Burns 120 Acres At Crane Pond, Bear Mountain

Crane Pond FireDEC Forest Rangers have contained a forest fire started by an unattended campfire on Crane Pond that has spread up Bear Mountain in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness.

The Fire was reported to the DEC Ray Brook Dispatch on Saturday, Sept. 26, at 1:23 pm.  Responding Forest Rangers reported the fire was about two acres on Bear Mountain above Crane Pond.  Dry and windy conditions on Sunday increased the fire to about 80 acres. 

On Monday, DEC issued the following statement:

“The Schroon Lake Fire Department staged a pump truck on Pyramid Road to protect structures if the fire moved in this direction.  State Police Aviation conducted bucket drops all afternoon.  Currently the fire has grown to approximately 100 acres with 14 Forest Rangers on scene.  Ongoing aid is being provided by State Police Aviation and the Schroon Lake Fire Department.  Hikers are discouraged from using the Short Swing Trail off State Route 74.  Hikers should also be aware that there will be smoke conditions, depending on the prevailing winds.”

The fire grew to almost 122 acres before it was contained on Monday evening at about 7 pm, according to DEC spokesperson Emily Kilburn  “with a hand line on the western perimeter.  Rangers also used leaf blowers to clear the Short Swing trail before constructing the eastern hand line.”

DEC is continuing to monitor the situation, Kilburn said. On Tuesday, light rains that began in the morning have increased to be heavy at times.

The road to Crane Pond has been illegally open for many years. Last year, after the road was reported almost impassible where it crosses a wetland, it was illegally rebuilt by what many presumed to be a local highway crew or renegade DEC staff.

This story was updated at 3 pm, Tuesday.

Photo by Forest Ranger Sarah Bode.


John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for more than 45 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John’s Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on North Country Public Radio and on WSLP Lake Placid.

He is also on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and edits The New York History Blog. He is the author of two books of regional history.




23 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    A forest fire in the Adirondacks. I am surprised it has not happened years ago, especially after the blow down (I think in 1997???). This will be good in the long run. It will allow new vegetation to grow and promote wildlife.

    They fight forest fires every year out west and no one ever thinks that it will happen at home. This is a call for selectively harvesting the Adirondacks and doing controlled burns to avoid situations like this. By managing the forest, it will promote more wildlife, sightseeing, and tourism. It will also bring in non-resident and out of the area hunters to hunt the region much like they did in the early 1900’s. This will create revenue for the local business as well as for the state.

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      In the Adirondacks, forest fires happened many times each year.

      • Tim says:

        Of this magnitude? I know 100 acres is not a lot in the big pictures, but how many substantial fires are there every year? How many acres do these fires consume every year? What was the largest forest fire last year in the Park?

        Or are these small fires that are supplely out of control for a day or two???

      • joeb says:

        They happen many times each year! Then maybe we should stop all camping and hiking in the Forest Preserve do to the carelessness of this group who promote themselves as good stewards of the land. After all , that group is trying to eliminate all snowmobiling in the Adirondack Park on the grounds that they are all beer drinking, fast riding, no concern for wildlife, no respect for the land , tree cutting , rock moving ,harassing people, noise polluting users of the land . I can not remember the last time a snowmobiler started a forest fire. I would like to see an environmental group start a campaign to eliminate all campfires in the Adirondack Park. I guarantee it will never happen. Hypocrites.

        By the way . I am an avid hiker, cross country skier , power boater ,appreciate the quiet of the deep woods , have respect for the land but am also an avid snowmobiler as well.

    • AG says:

      There is a difference between a human caused forest fire and a natural one. Natural fires are indeed good for forests. Human caused ones are not. It is sort of the same as trees being wantonly cut down by people versus a hurricane passing through and toppling them. Big difference.

  2. Scott says:

    The DEC website shows forest ranger annual report summaries for about 10 years and they show wildfire statistics too. Most wildfires in the adks are fairly small. Nowadays NYS does not have much significant wildfire and the larger wildfires are usually outside the forest preserve. Because of NYS Constitution 14th Amendment, wildfire mitigation management or any forest management does not occur in the forest preserve. You might think that with the 14th Amendment they would let wildfires burn in the forest preserve but they can pick and choose how to apply the ‘forever kept as wild forest lands’ clause.

    • Paul says:

      I can think of a few other spots in the Park thaty needs to have a forest fire to clean up the down trees and debris. As stated above, there needs to be a forest managment plan to help prevent the whole Park from burning down and to increase the vegitation for the wildlife.
      The state catering to a few bunny huggers need to end.

  3. Robert Wachtell says:

    I saw the smoke from this fire at about 9:00 AM Sunday Morning from the top of South Dix Mountain. This was about 4 hours prior to the 1:24 PM reporting of the fire to DEC. Was quite certain it was a fire but assumed it had been reported or was noticed by that time because it was producing a lot of smoke at that time. Had my sell phone and could have dialed 911 at that time, but could not conclude it was even a wild fire from a good 20 miles away. Even took a picture or two of it.

  4. Corenna Hoyt says:

    It saddens me that an unsupervised campfire caused this fire. I love Crane Pond. I have been camping and hiking at Crane Pond and Pharoah all of my life. It always saddens me to see damage from people to do not take care of the area. When the road was fixed last year I had mixed feelings because it made it so easy for people get in, increasing the number of people abusing the land. (I am not saying that all people coming in are abusing the land, or that an impassible road keeps those abusing the land out. Simply that, more people = more damage). I don’t mind working a little harder to hike in, if it protects the area. I am interested to see what the DEC’s response will be to this incident. I hope the area is not closed to camping!

  5. Justin Farrell says:

    The report of an “unattended campfire” doesn’t really seem to add up. I was there yesterday looking at the damage. I’m no expert in investigating the causes of wild fires, but it appeared to me that the fire began near the rear of the “closed” campsite at the base of Bear Mountain. This site has been clearly marked against camping & campfires for several years now, and there hasn’t been an established fire-pit at that site since it was closed. It seems to me that it could’ve been something as simple as a poorly extinguished cigarette. After all, you may see plenty of cigaratte butts on the ground at any one of the other campsites around Crane Pond. I posted some photos over on Adkforum.com from my visit yesterday, and a witness who was camped across the bay also commented on what his group saw…Didn’t sound like anyone was camping there…

    http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=22305

  6. Charlie S says:

    John says “In the Adirondacks, forest fires happened many times each year.”

    Tim says “how many substantial fires are there every year?”

    There were many great fires in the Adirondacks in the 1800’s and early part of this century. There has not been one in recent memory. My thoughts over a period of time of late has been that what’s happening out in California could very well take place in the Adirondacks one of these years as cycles do occur and it’s only a matter of time before the northeast starts seeing drought conditions again. We should count our blessings with what we have and cherish the moments as nothing ever stays the same,always there is this constant state of flux taking shape around us whether we are aware of it or not.

  7. Tim says:

    Charlie,
    You are 100% correct. The state needs to be proactive and adapt a forest managment plan which woudl include selectivly harvesting trees and controlled burns. This would increase revenue through out the area and state as well as eliminate or reduce the risk of a forest fire and the potential billions of dollars worth of damage and lost industries throught out the Park.

  8. Mike says:

    Folks, in a summer where there has been virtually no rain for 6, maybe 8 weeks and the forest is bone dry, gosh it really isn’t a surprise that a fire could start.

    However I am impressed by the responders and their ability to contain it. Very impressed.

  9. ADKerDon says:

    The fire at Crane Pond/ Bear Mountain was a great benefit. Finally there is some forest management in the Adirondacks. Here is a 100 plus acres where wildlife will have a chance to find food and shelter. Why did DEC put it out? Did DEC use machines and motorized equipment in this Wilderness area? Did they reopen old roads? Too bad the state does not burn the entire forest preserve every 25 years or so. Then we would have some wildlife habitat here again.

    • Tim says:

      Exactly…. To bad that they don’t adapt a plan to selctivley harvest and burn sections of the Park so wildlife will once again in habbit the area and reduce the risk of a natural disaster. It just shows that common sense is not to common when it comes to the law makers

    • Tim says:

      Also, look at the revenue that it would bring into the state. Selectivly harvesting and selling the logs would greatly reduce our deficiate and create jobs. Not to mention it would create revenue in the local area where the work is performed. If they had a forest managment plan, in 10 years we would have a healthy population of trophy bucks and bears and the non-residents would be coming to the Park just like the did in the 1920’s for a chance at a trophy buck.

  10. Justin Farrell says:

    Just for the record… I have visited Crane Pond and Bear Mountain contless times in the past 30+ years, and have seen plenty of wildlife in the area there.

    • Tim says:

      For the record…Crane Pond and Bear Mountain (the 120 acres of wildfire) is just a small dot on the map in relation to the whole Adirondack Park. Maybe and most likely there is plenty of wildlife thier, but in general there is not much wildlife (deer, bear, fisher, turkey,…). If you get off the beaten path and into the woods, you will find that it is dense with little or no vegitation. I have noticed that you will see more wildlife around a community, villiage, or hamlett becuase there is open property / feilds with green grass and vegitation.

      • Justin Farrell says:

        Thanks for the reminder, Tim.
        I do spend lots of time off-trail in many different parts of the Adks. As a matter of fact I’m headed off trail today in the Dix Wilderness again. When I was there a few days ago I saw two deer, an owl, and lots bear & moose scat….just for the record.

      • AG says:

        What you describe is a natural process that exists all over the world. For instance – the Amazon is full of life – but there is no new growth in the forest until an old tree topples over. Then the process begins again. Everything else shoots up to reach the top of the canopy. The animals adjust accordingly. Man’s intervention isn’t really necessary in certain processes.

  11. Dave says:

    lucky they did fix road or the fire fighters would have had trouble getting to pond, because with or without road crane pond is a campsite

  12. Richard Butsch says:

    I back packed and hiked in this area annually from early 1970s into the 1990s, most recently a day hike about 5 years ago. Pharaoh lake hiking in from south and from north, Pharoah Mountain, Whortleberry, Crane Pond, etc. I was delighted in the early 1980s when they removed the ranger cabin and canoe rental on Pharoah Lake and closed the road.

    I saw the devastation on Google Earth. But look forward to returning to see the regrowth in a few years.