Ridge Brush Fire Update: Fire Continues, Residents Evacuated

Ridge Brush Fire Long Island Expressway
A sign tells travelers headed east on the Long Island Expressway to leave the HOV lane open for emergency vehicles en route to battle the still-out-of-control Ridge brush fire. (Timothy Bolger/Long Island Press)

The 2,000-acre wide brush fire continues to burn in Ridge Monday evening, and nearby residents have been told to evacuate.

A mandatory evacuation is now in effect for the area of Wading River Manorville Road and Schultz Road (east) to Edwards Avenue and from Peconic River (north) to Grumman Boulevard.

An emergency shelter has been set up in the Riverhead Senior Center, located on 60 Shade Tree Lane. Residents can contact the shelter at 631-722-4444 ext. 0.

Smoke from the blaze can be seen as far west as Commack, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone stated in an online update that as of 5:30 p.m., firefighters from 109 departments in Suffolk County  have responded to the fire. He added that 15 fire departments from Nassau County are en route.

The fire spread to part of Brookhaven National Laboratory property in nearby Upton. BNL officials said the fire broke out at about 2:30 p.m. and there are no reported injuries. The flames reached at least 300 acres on the northern portion of the BNL site east of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider complex, officials said.

The Lab, which is run by the U.S. Department of Energy, evacuated its Sewage Treatment Plant as a precaution. No BNL buildings have been damaged.

The Long Island Expressway’s HOV lane is open only to emergency vehicles.

Bellone urged residents to only use 911 for emergencies, and not to call seeking information on the fire.

The blaze came as the Upton-based National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Alert, meaning Long Island and surrounding areas are at heightened risk for brush fires spreading because of low humidity and high winds.

The fire comes just after Melville firefighters extinguished a brush fire closer to the Nassau-Suffolk county line and Lakeland Fire Department firefighters to an unfounded report of a brush fire in Connetquot River State Park.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.