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Fire Actually Does Good For Montezuma Wildlife Refuge

By Dave Bullard

Oswego, NY – Two days after a huge fire swept through part of the Montezuma wildlife refuge near Seneca Falls, officials believe the blaze actually did some good.

The fire ripped through 700 acres, about 1/10 of the wildlife preserve. Manager Tom Jasicoff said it could have been much worse. Winds did not blow the fire past the efforts to contain it and did not cover the state Thruway with smoke. He said the fire actually helped the preserves plant life.

"It returned a lot of the minerals, that were tied up in the dead stalks, back in the ground. They will allow new plant growth to emerge as well as provide sunlight to penetrate to the floor of the marsh to allow a diversity of plants. Where as the cat tail were really dominant and they will always be dominant there but it will give other plants at least a fighting chance," said Jasicoff.

Jasicoff believes few if any animals died in the fire. He spent the time during the fire watching a pair of nesting bald eagles who, he said, were surrounded by flames.

"I personally watched the pair stay on the tree," stay Jasicoff, "the female or the male was on the nest. I couldn't see but I'm sure there was soot and ash falling on their heads as they were incubating. They hung tight."

Jasicoff and fire officials believe a passing Thruway motorist may have started the fire by tossing out a cigarette. He said all natural causes for the fire have been ruled out.