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Environment

NY state forest rangers battle western wildfires

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Two New York state forest rangers have been deployed to assist efforts to fight wildfires out West. 

Forest ranger Timothy Carpenter, from Steuben County, returned home on Monday after two weeks of battling the Bootleg fire in Oregon.

"Our team of wildland firefighting experts are some of the best in the country,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “I commend them for their bravery and willingness to support ongoing efforts to contain these devastating wildfires.”

The Bootleg wildfire is now more than 50% contained, according to the NY DEC. It has ripped through 400,000 acres, destroyed more than 200 buildings and forced the evacuation of at least 2,000 people since it began earlier this month. 

It is currently the largest wildfire in the U.S., so much so that it is creating its own weather patterns.

A second ranger from New York was deployed the same day Carpenter returned. That ranger was sent on a two-week deployment to fight the Alder Creek Fire in Montana which has burned almost 6,000 acres. 

It is now considered the nation's top wildfire fighting priority because of its proximity to hundreds of homes and buildings.

The first time New York state rangers were sent to assist wildfire fighting efforts in western states was in 1979. About 1 to 2 crews have been deployed each year since.

“DEC’s Forest Rangers never hesitate to lend a helping hand no matter where they're needed,” said Seggos. “I thank them for their service and courageous efforts."