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900 Acres Scorched by Brush Fire, Still Burning

A brush fire in Wharton State Forest has burned almost 900 acres since breaking out Sunday and is only 50 percent contained as of Monday morning,  according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

Sunday forest fire in Wharton State Forest seend from Eastern HS in Voorhees
Sunday forest fire in Wharton State Forest seend from Eastern HS in Voorhees (@dcshrader (Dave Schrader) via Twitter)

The fire, near Atison Lake in Waterford inside Wharton State Forest, broke out around 10 a.m. Sunday morning, the service said.

“Right now it’s going to shoot across from 206 and to the eastern end of Hammonton into Mullica. We have made notifications to those communities to let them know,” Rob Gill of the New Jersey Fire Service told 6 ABC.

The “Degolia Wildfire” threatens no homes, officials said, although the Goshen Pond Campgrounds were evacuated. It is the sixth major forest fire in New Jersey in the past week, according to NBC Philadelphia.

The Fire Service was also battling a blaze for the second time this week in Downe Township, Cumberland County the Press of Atlantic City reported. The size of that fire was unknown, but no evacuations or injuries were reported.

Conditions remain dry in New Jersey’s forests, with low relative humidity despite Friday night’s rain which helped bring fires in Ocean, Gloucester and Burlington counties under control and extinguish them.

Ocean County Freeholder Joseph Vicari (R) is urging people to not throw used cigarette and cigar butts from car windows.

Vicari said many late models cars no longer feature ashtrays. “Burning cigarettes are a hazard to our woodlands, Vicari tells the Lakewood Scoop. “One single cigarette butt can lead to a blazing forest fire and can put lives and property in danger.”

 

Aerial view of Sunday's fire in Wharton State Forest
Aerial view of Sunday’s fire in Wharton State Forest taken from a single engine air tanker owned and operated by Downstown Aero (Ed Carter Jr.)

He said used butts not only pose a fire danger but a pollution danger to Barnegat Bay.

“One of the biggest problems facing the bay is the tremendous amount of cigarette butts that is washed into the waterway,” Vicari told the Scoop. “One cigarette may not seem like much, but thousands upon thousands are damaging this vital body of water.”

The freeholder suggests buying a fireproof ashtray or using a container for discarding used butts.

The good news, from meteorologist Alan Kasper, is that forest fire risk will decrease Tuesday, the first of several days of expected rain.

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