A four-day fire in Pike and part of Monroe County, involving 995 acres in Goose Pond, remains under criminal investigation. 

A four-day fire in Pike and part of Monroe County, involving 995 acres in Goose Pond, remains under criminal investigation. 

“A lot of people who’ve been here up to 35 years have never seen a fire this big in the Pike County area,” says Shawn Turner, Forest Fire Specialist Supervisor with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry. Most haven’t seen it in Northeastern, PA, he said.

Most of the land that burned belongs to Skytop Lodge in Barret Township, with another three to four private land owners’ properties involved. Of the burned acreage, 140 acres was in Monroe County with the rest or the majority in Pike County.  

The fire started around 9 p.m., April 17 in Greene Township, Pike County and spread from there. Though it was contained by April 20, 8 p.m., Turner said hot spots were still burning as late as Friday, April 25. At least 12 different agencies were called in to battle the blaze that covered some 10 miles along it’s edges. Included in the response were the following volunteer fire departments: Barrett Township, Promised Land, Greene-Dreher, Coolbaugh in Monroe County, Hemlock Farms, Blooming Grove, and Hamlin, along with DCNR, the Delaware Water Gap National Park Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Promised Land and Barrett Ambulance Companies were also on scene.

“A lot of guys busted their chops and did all they could with the resources they had,” said Greene-Dreher Fire Chief Allen Shiffler. His crew, 20 strong, arrived Thursday night around 9:45 p.m. and remained on scene until 7 a.m. the next morning. They also helped fill tankers all Friday night. “This fire was actually two-and-a-half miles back in the woods,” Chief Shiffler said. Turner figures about 70 volunteer firefighters were on scene, with two suffering minor injury, one a sprained ankle. 

Turner says by 7 a.m. on April 18, the local volunteer fire companies had just about exhausted their manpower and that state and federal agencies coordinated and had the responsibility from that point on. He says the fire burned for three 24-hour periods combined. He says the fire burned out of control all night long with flames reaching 15-feet high at night. “That’s quite rare, because at night you get humidity that goes up,” he said, dew that settles in, but that wasn’t the case here.

“This fire will be very expensive— well over $40 thousand,” Turner said, mostly for the cost of equipment, some for manpower. The use of aircraft was the most expensive, he said. The steep ground required the use of three air tankers, a helicopter and bulldozers. Helicopters cost $14 a minute with air tankers costing a lot more, he said. They were also utilizing a reconnaissance aircraft. 

The American Red Cross and Skytop Lodge contributed meals to the emergency personnel on scene. Trish Tyler-Davis, Executive Director of the Wayne-Pike Chapter of the American Red Cross released the following statement in a news release, “When speaking with Shawn Turner from DCNR, he said that the firefighters were in a constant battle of winning and losing, as the terrain was very steep and there was a tremendous wind shift. These firefighters worked tirelessly to ensure that additional acreage was not affected and we were happy to able to support their work in any way possible.

“The amazing staff and volunteers of the American Red Cross made this disaster response possible. Without them, the Wayne-Pike Chapter could not continue to fulfill its mission.”

Turner said it’s  a criminal investigation with a lot of pieces to put together.