FLANDERS - Some firefighters on the East End say they might have a hard time fighting brush fires this season because of overgrowth and debris in wooded areas.
Woods in Flanders are filled with dead oak trees. Several have toppled over, blocking pathways vital to firefighters. Chief Joe Petit, of the Flanders Fire Department, says trees set his crew back at least 10 minutes in responding to a brush fire.
Chief Petit says Suffolk fire departments have been asking the county to clear roads for six years. He says he has been told the trees remain to discourage illegal dumping and ATV joy rides.
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"We're getting trucks stuck a lot more often now than we have in the past because of the dead trees," said Petit.
Meanwhile, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Monday that the county is building a training ground for firefighters in Yaphank.
"It's great training and you can never pass up training, but that's not preparing us for what we're dealing with here," said Petit.