Governor Cuomo has declared a State of Emergency for Suffolk County as crews work to battle a massive wild fire. It's a similar call many local departments have heard in recent weeks. Lori Chung has more on how the National Guard is ready to help if needed.
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RENSSELEAR COUNTY, N.Y. -- With a Bambi bucket attached, National Guard troops take their Blackhawk choppers to the skies to test their readiness to battle a major wildfire.
"We're doing water bucket training," said SFC. Steven Petibone. "This is annual training that the National Guard is required to do."
Over and over, crews practiced loading and dumping the 660 gallon buckets. It's particularly timely this season when dry and windy conditions increase the threat of brush fires.
"They have crew members on board to see where the helicopter is located while they're approaching the water," Petibone said.
It may actually shape up to be a pretty busy season for teams like this. In fact, the team training here was actually on stand by for a fire down on Long Island.
"We also have a facility in Ronkonkoma. They're probably already on the scene," said Petibone.
The threat of brush fires is one that local companies like the Wyantskill Fire Department know all too well.
"The ground is so dry. There's been no precipitation for many days, almost weeks," said Chief John O'Bomsawin. "It's like kindling out there right now."
And while their trucks are stocked with the appropriate tools and choppers stand ready to face the worst, O'Bamsawin says he hopes everyone else does their part by taking proper precautions.
"They should watch what they're doing with cigarette butts, cigarettes, [they] shouldn't be doing any outside burns right now."
Not at least until the weather turns a little wetter, which will make a brush fire far less likely.