Fire still burning at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, evacuations in effect
The second fire on a practice ranges at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst continued to burn on Thursday and some evacuations of surrounding residents remained in effect.
Senior Airman Lauren Pitts of the base Public Affairs Office said the fire on the Tact 2 practice range was contained at 80 percent and had burned 220 acres as of Thursday morning.
The fire started around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon according to Pitts who said there was no practice at the range going on at the time. She added that the fire is burning on base property.
Pitts said that a backfire operation will also be run by firefighters along Trenton Road which involves actually starting a second fire. "It sounds a little counter-productive but it's really effective. They'll start a fire. That fire will move up and meet the other fire in the middle. It's a technique used to contain these types of fires."
"The humidity will keep the smoke lower to the ground but release the smoke back into the air as conditions dry out," Pitts said.
Juliustown Road from Pemberton Road to Pointville Road, which runs adjacent to the base, remained closed, according to Tech Sgt Darryl Dean from the Public Affairs Office. Some residents of the 5 homes in the Lakeshore Mobile Home Park asked to voluntarily evacuate remained out of their homes, the tech sergeant said.
A unified command with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service was established on Wednesday night, according to DEP spokesman Bob Considine. Pitts said that 60 members of the Joint Base's fire department along with the FFS and Burlington County Fire Department was also assisting to put out the fire.
Efforts to contain the fire continue on Thursday. "They'll continue to battle the fire and monitor the situation and give any further evacuations and closures as needed," Dean said. "Some rain is expected to fall over South Jersey on Thursday which will certainly help fire fighting efforts,": meteorologist Dan Zarrow said.
Resident Jasmine Rodriquez, a Townsquare Media employee, said that ash was falling on her at a Burger King restaurant on the Pemberton Bypass.
A fire on the practice range at Fort Dix last Wednesday burned 750 acres and sent a plume of smoke into the air.