Northeast Region Fire Program
Northeast Region
Dry Marsh Fire, April 4, 2010
Dry Marsh Fire on Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, Easter Day 2010

Early on Sunday morning, April 4, 2010, a wildfire was discovered on Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, just off the refuge's wildlife drive and next to the New York State Thruway (I-90) in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York. With record high temperatures the previous two days, dry cattails, and low humidity, the fire quickly grew to 694 acres. Flames 30 feet tall and a mile wide attracted 1,000 visitors to the refuge.

While U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service firefighters dispatched to the scene, firefighters from the local Magee-Tyre Volunteer Fire Department monitored the fire from afar because it was inaccessible and dangerous to try to put out directly. State Police, New York Thruway Authority, State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers and other State employees also responded and managed traffic.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel were concerned the fire would burn into peat and smoke out the Thruway and U.S. Highway 20, but by 4:00 p.m., the fire was contained by open water and a series of canals and ditches. The Dry Marsh Fire burned within 30 feet of a tree in which bald eagles were nesting. Although ash fell on their heads, the eagles remained incubating.

According to Refuge Manager Tom Jasikoff, wildlife impacts from the fire were minimal because it was still early in the migration/nesting season. "The overall habitat impacts have been mostly beneficial," he said. Read more

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Last updated: April 25, 2014