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Harriman Park Brush Fire Causes Odor in Cortlandt

CORTLANDT, N.Y. – The smell of burning brush and smoke permeated the air Tuesday morning in Cortlandt, as a westerly wind pushed the smoky smell of a brush fire burning in Harriman State Park across the Hudson River.

“We had three outside smoke investigations in the Town of Cortlandt but no actual fires,” said John Munson, chief of the Croton Fire Department. Munson said departments around the town were called Monday evening because of the smell of smoke coming from the west. Officials from Buchanan Engine Company No. 1 and the Continental Village Fire Department confirmed they received calls about the smoky smell.

Munson and other area fire chiefs said the Montrose Fire Department received several calls about the smell Monday evening. Montrose fire officials did not immediately return phone calls regarding the incidents.

New York State Parks officials also did not return phone calls Monday morning, but according a published report, five acres of land in Harriman State Park had burned by Monday evening. The same report said no homes or property were threatened by the fire.

The weather is expected to bring little relief, with 15 mph winds predicted for Tuesday afternoon and evening. The National Weather Service issued a special advisory for several areas around the tri-state, including northern Westchester County, noting an “enhanced risk of fire spread this afternoon.”

There is a 20 percent chance of showers Tuesday afternoon and evening, and a 30 percent chance of rain Wednesday.

Westchester County Parks Commissioner Kathleen O’Connor issued a ban on all open fires in county parks, because of the low relative humidity and windy forecast. A news release Tuesday morning said the situation would be monitored daily.

The release said only propane or charcoal fires used for cooking in permanent, fixed park grills would be permitted. O'Connor also requested that park patrons be vigilant for fire hazards, and notify park staff of any active fire hazards they see in county parks.

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