MANORVILLE - The wildfires that charred about 1,000 acres in Ridge and Manorville are mostly extinguished, according to Suffolk officials, with the exception of a few smoldering hot spots.
"This could have been a lot worse," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who toured the scorched area today and declared a state of emergency for Suffolk. "All the ingredients were there for a real tragedy."
Cuomo says he declared a state of emergency to give the state and county more flexibility in receiving resources and financial assistance.
The wildfires sparked yesterday on the northern side of the Brookhaven National Lab property and quickly tore across the Pine Barrens, fed by strong gusts and thick brush that has been parched by dry weather.
Officials say a total of 109 Long Island fire departments responded to the fire. Helicopters from the state police and Air National Guard also assisted in scouting out problem areas and dousing flare-ups.
County officials have lifted the evacuation orders for some residents in the towns of Brookhaven and Riverhead that were put in place yesterday as a precaution.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said nine structures were destroyed by the flames, including two houses.
The Long Island Rail Road also announced that train service between Greenport and Riverhead will be restored Wednesday morning. Service had been suspended as flames got too close to the tracks.
In all, officials said that despite three firefighters suffering relatively minor injuries, they are thankful that no residents were injured escaping the path of the fire.
The cause of the blaze is being investigated by Suffolk's arson squad, officials say. There have been reports that it was sparked by a controlled burn, but the Department of Environmental Conservation, which typically handles such burns, says it did not participate in any controlled burns Monday.
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