Lessons Learned From Pinelands Fire [AUDIO]
Today marks six years since an errant flare from a military fighter jet, at the Warren Grove Gunnery Range, sparked a raging wildfire that burned 17,000 acres in New Jersey’s Pinelands.
The blaze threatened a hospital and homes in Southern Ocean County, but today it serves as a lesson on ways wildfires can be prevented and infrastructure protected.
“There’s a greater need for hazardous fuel reductions,” explains Assistant State Forest Fire Warden Steve Holmes.
He says they’re utilizing national programs to help with that.
“I think we have 14 Fire Wise communities and they will take measures and we can get money federally for them to do thinning around their properties and stuff like that to make it more safe from wildfire.”
Holmes says they’re also committed to conducting controlled burns on 20,000 acres of land through out the state annually, a practice that rids areas of accumulated dead underbrush in wooded areas.
“That gives us the ability to help stop a wildfire, to help steer it around a community, reducing the fuel loads so the fire intensity is dropped down.”
He says there have also been technological improvements.
“Basically, mapping has been made a lot better for us, so as we’re giving out assignments to people, we can give them a map and actually see exactly where they’re going and what they’re going to be doing.”
Holmes urges folks to make sure campfires are put out completely.
“Physically put your hand over the fire to make sure there’s no heat left in it.”
He also advises smokers to make sure cigarettes are discarded properly.
The wildfire has also prompted a number of mitigation steps and precautions taken by the military, as well.
Holmes says the New Jersey Forest Fire Service has been around for over 100 years. They were established in 1906. He says lessons learned from large scale fires in the past, helps them to train to better fight future blazes.