Two Nassau County men were arrested and charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment after a burn-off of debris caused a forest fire that burned more than 2,500 acres on an upstate mountain ridge in early May, authorities said.
Michael Schiliro, 62, of East Meadow, and Walter R. Drobecker, 52, of Bethpage, surrendered to State Police at the Wurtsboro barracks on Wednesday and were each charged with reckless endangerment of property -- a Class B misdemeanor under state penal law.
The Associated Press said both pleaded not guilty. Police said the two were released on unspecified cash bail.
The two men were charged after investigators said they had illegally burned garbage and yard waste in an outdoor fire pit at Schiliro's property in Mamakating in Sullivan County on May 3. According to an account in The Daily Freeman, a newspaper in Kingston, N.Y., the fire damaged 2,759 acres in Ulster and Sullivan counties along the Shawangunk Ridge before it was brought under control on May 8.
The paper said homes in the hamlet of Cragsmoor and Wawarsing were evacuated. No homes were damaged, according to the AP.
The burning was considered illegal because a state ban on opening burning was in effect at the time of the burn.