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Saratoga County

Officials: Massive Wawarsing fire intentionally set

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Albany/HV: Officials: Massive Wawarsing fire intentionally set
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Dozens of firefighters spent their Easter Sunday battling a blazing fire in Ulster County. As YNN's Elaina Athans shows us, their work is far from over.

TOWN OF WAWARSING, N.Y. -- Grey smoke and the smell of charred wood fill the air in the Town of Wawarsing after a fire ravages the area and destroys a landmark.

Bulldozers dismantled what was the Tamarack Lodge. The fire started Saturday afternoon and on Easter Sunday, crews were still working to gain control of its fury. Police believe someone started the fire despite a burn restriction that is in effect.

"The fire appears to have started under an intentional premises, burning brush, and it appears to have grown out of control," said Ulster County Undersheriff Frank Faluotico.

Strong winds fanned flames and created a forest fire so massive, it traveled over Route 52 burning trees and structures on both sides of the highway.

"We did lose multiple structures unfortunately, but really the issue we had was we could not control that fire. It was just too fast moving and large," said Ulster County Chief Fire Coordinator Charless Mutz.

The sweeping fire scorched about 50 acres, swallowing not only the historic property but also area bungalows that have been around since the 1900s."

"There were ten occupied structures with 18 people living in those homes, but no injuries to those residing," said New York State Fire Ranger Rob Dawson.

The American Red Cross is helping those residents move forward.The owner of the Tamarack Lodge too upset to talk about his loss.

63 fire companies from four counties assisted in the battle. One fire fighter was sent to hospital for smoke inhalation. Others experienced minor injuries. All are expected to be okay.

While fire officials finally have a good grip on this fire, they expect it to smolder until Monday. As for the Tamarack, once a jewel in the Catskills, that will be hard to replaced.

Police says they have some leads in this case and an arrest is pending. An official tells us the investigation stretched from Hudson Valley downstate to Long Island.

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