Rewards offered in Ridge-Manorville wildfire

A firefighter battles a blaze in Manorville off

A firefighter battles a blaze in Manorville off Wading River Road as a large brush fire spread across eastern Long Island. (April 9, 2012) Photo Credit: Chris Ware

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Suffolk authorities, frustrated in their efforts to track down who intentionally set the Ridge-Manorville wildfires in April, are offering up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest.

"We've kind of exhausted all of our leads at this point," said Sgt. George White of the Suffolk police Arson Squad.

Suffolk County police and fire officials said Thursday they need the public's help and they are each offering a potential $5,000 reward.

White said police won't release specifics of how the fire was started because those details are known only to the responsible person. But he reiterated the fires, first reported at 2:37 p.m. on April 9, were intentionally set.

"We know somebody started that fire," he said. "Somebody out there knows."

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Police ask anyone with information about the arson to call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. Callers may be eligible for the cash reward and calls will remain confidential.

The Suffolk County Arson Task Force is offering the other reward of up to $5,000. Its hotline number is 631-654-1211.

The fire burned 1,123 acres in the pine barrens, destroyed three homes and several structures, injured three firefighters, led to thousands of evacuations and required help from nearly 100 fire departments.

The blaze was the biggest on Long Island since the 1995 Sunrise fire, which burned more than 5,000 acres in the pine barrens and jumped Sunrise Highway.

The fire began as two separate blazes in Manorville and Ridge that later connected when high winds and droughtlike conditions fueled the flames.

With Emily C. Dooley

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