Wildfires are usually associated with the American West. This week, however, they dotted the east coast from Florida to Massachusetts. Unusually dry conditions and strong winds fueled their development.
Here in New York City, a five-alarm brush fire broke out in the composting facility of the former Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. Winds between 15 and 20 mph fanned the flames and sent thick clouds of smoke across the highway, snarling traffic. Another large wildfire blazed on nearby Long Island. It charred over one thousand acres of land destroying nine commercial buildings and three homes. Fortunately, no deaths have been reported.
April is a month famous for its showers. This year in New York City, however, they have been few and far between. In fact, the city has received below average precipitation for the past three consecutive months. This has left us with a rain deficit of 5.66 inches. As a result, the local underbrush has been transformed into a tinderbox just waiting for a spark.
Officials say the flames of the current wildfires are still smoldering, but are mostly contained at this point. However, until the winds subside and significant rainfall arrives, wildfires will remain a serious threat in the eastern United States.