Forest fire in Altona 65 percent contained

ALTONA, N.Y. (WCAX) Dry conditions are not helping crews battle a large forest fire in upstate New York. More than 500 acres have now burned in Altona.

"There is still active burning going on within the fire perimeter. However, due to our suppression efforts, due to the wetting rains we received yesterday, our fire activity has decreased substantially," New York Forest Ranger David Russell said on Sunday..

As of Monday, firefighters had 65 percent of the fire contained. Crews have been making control lines by bulldozers and by hand. Russell says forest fires can be tough to fight as they don't have the luxury of bringing the larger vehicles into the woods.

"Actual men and women working with hand tools-- rakes, shovels and clearing away vegetation, spraying water on to the fire and digging it up with those hand tools," said Russell.

At the Altona Fire Department, volunteer Vanessa Thompson has been feeding firefighters three meals a day since the call first came in Thursday.

"Millions of times a day we hear, 'Thank you. Thank you so much for keeping us fed and hydrated and keeping us going.' My thing is no, thank you for being out there and putting your life in danger and saving our town," said Thompson, who said 99 percent of the food was donated. "I'm a big pay it forward person. So for me this is just one more step in the program, neighbors helping neighbors. The community has been amazing."

"The donations that we have received from the public have been overwhelming. They have allowed us to keep our firefighters and our members here at the fire department fed, watered and in good shape," said Russell.

At this time, we still do not know what sparked the massive blaze. More than 100 firefighters are working to put it out.