The danger of forest fire remains high in New Jersey Tuesday, and a Red Flag Warning has been issued by the National Weather Service.

With no rain in the forecast, wind gusts of up to 25 mph and low humidity, conditions are perfect for a wildfire to be sparked and quickly spread, especially between noon and 8 p.m.

"That doesn't mean every tree, bush, and field will spontaneous combust. Rather, if a fire gets started, it will spread quickly and become very difficult to contain," meteorologist Dan Zarrow said. "That makes it very important for all New Jerseyans to use extreme caution with any outdoor burning. One discarded cigarette could set an entire forest on fire in such conditions."

Robert Geist, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said "Fires can spread very rapidly if they are not detected suppressed rapidly. If a fire has started in the right fuels, they they can escape control efforts unless we are on the fire within minutes. Dry warm days with winds as we are seeing this week are perfect for fire spread."

The threat is high throughout the northeast with an area from eastern Pennsylvania to southern New Hampshire under a Red Flag Warning. In New Jersey, Geist said "the Pine Barrens are always a critical area for fire in NJ due to its size and ground fuel resources such as dead trees, limbs and leaves."

Geist said that the in anticipation of a dry week the Forest Fire Service had authorized a level 2 patrol which allows every section to have 3 extra firefighters on call ready to respond. "Also all of out initial attack engines are staffed and ready for response," said Geist.

He said an additional water dropping aircraft are ready to drop water on fires should anything start.

Annually Spring, regardless of weather, is going to be our peak fire season. To keep the state prepared to combat wildfires, the FFS spend the winter preparing. Maintaining equipment, training firefighters, re-establishing our relationships with our cooperators, and doing public education.

Several fires burned around New Jersey on Sunday and Monday. A fire burned 113 acres of forest in Shamong inside Wharton State Forest while a second fire in the Glen Grey section of Bergen County park system in Mahwah burned 15 acres. A fire also broke out in the Matawan River Wildlife Management Area along Sally Ike Road in Brick early Monday morning.

All three fires have since been completely contained.


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