Governor Kathy Hochul greets forest firefighters at home after fighting KNP complex fire in California

Twenty New York State wildland firefighters were welcomed into their home by Governor Kathy Hochul after a two-week mission to fight the KNP Complex fire in California.

The firefighters were led by DEC forest guards.

Last month, Hochul also welcomed home a team of wildland firefighters deployed to the Greenwood, Minnesota fire, and the return of DEC ranger Robbi Mecus after battling the Dixie fire in California. In August, Ranger Michael Burkholder returned from fighting the Alder Creek and Trail Creek fires in Montana. In July, Ranger Timothy Carpenter returned home after being deployed to the Bootleg Fire in Oregon.

Upon the return of those firefighters, the DEC deployed a ranger to serve as the task force leader and support efforts to contain the Dixie fire in California for two weeks. The Dixie Fire began on July 13 and has burned over 963,309 acres to date, making it the largest wildfire in California history.

“This summer, wildfires fueled by our changing climate burned communities and parks across the country, devastating hundreds of thousands of acres. The brave New York firefighters have once again answered the call to help contain these fires and protect people and property, ”Governor Hochul said. “I so appreciate the efforts of New Yorkers who run into danger rather than walk away, especially when they know people’s lives are on the line. I’m proud of this team and happy to see them. return home safe and sound. “

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said: “For more than 40 years, New York wildland firefighters have stood ready to fight fires in faraway states. When these brave firefighters volunteer they don’t know where they will go or how big the fire will be, but they know they will help people and that is what matters most. As experts in incident command, DEC rangers and their staff often lead dozens of firefighters in the arduous task of containing a wildfire burning tens of thousands of acres. I thank them for their dedication, especially during this busy fire season this year, made worse by climate change.

The KNP Complex fire began on September 9, triggered by a thunderstorm, and is currently burning in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park and has spread to parts of Sequoia National Forest. To date, this fire has burned more than 67,708 acres and is currently about 11 percent under control. The return team includes rangers from DEC in addition to trained forest firefighting staff from the Land and Forestry, Fish and Wildlife Divisions, Materials Management and DEC operations, as well. only experienced firefighting volunteers from outside the DEC. The returning firefighters are:

Chris DiCintio, Ranger, Team Leader, Franklin County
Robert Stratton, Ranger, Apprentice Team Leader, Sullivan County
Arthur Perryman II, Ranger, Squad Leader, County Warren
Chester Lunt III, Ranger, Squad Leader, Onondaga County
Philip Parlier, Ranger Squad Leader, Orange County
Jacob Skudlarek, Ranger, Firefighter, Schoharie County
Michael Bodnar, Firefighter, Washington County
Kevin Furness, Firefighter, Steuben County
Dante Garofalo, firefighter, Onondaga County
Aaron Graves, DEC Lands and Forestry Division, St. Lawrence County
Eric Kasza, Firefighter, Otsego County
Daniel Kinsley, DEC Materials Management Division, Onondaga County
Kramer Kwaczala, DEC Land and Forestry Division, Albany County
Robert McPherson, Firefighter, Onondaga County
Joseph Nelson IV, DEC Fish and Wildlife Division, Otsego County
Thomas Roche, Firefighter, Nassau County
Joseph Sapp, Firefighter, Schenectady County
Neilson Snye, DEC Operations Division, Franklin County
Brandon Swart, DEC Fish and Wildlife Division, Madison County
Timothy Watson, DEC Fish and Wildlife Division, Saratoga County

Personnel and travel expenses for New York crews are either paid directly by the US Forest Service or reimbursed to New York State on the basis of a mutual aid agreement between states and federal land agencies .

In 1979, New York sent its first firefighting team to assist the western states during major wildfires. On average, one or two teams have been dispatched as needed to help with forest fires each year since. In addition to helping contain wildfires and minimize damage, these teams gain valuable experience that can be used to fight wildfires and manage all-hazard incidents in New York City.


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