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New Jersey still on watch for wildfires

A brush fire in Kearny (Brian Henry via Twitter @njsaint1)
A brush fire in Kearny (Brian Henry via Twitter @njsaint1)

Fire crews remain at the ready as the threat of wildfire is still high on Wednesday.

Wind speeds have dropped and the relative humidity is a bit higher, according to Townsquare New Jersey Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.

“New Jersey’s wildfire danger will be elevated once again for Wednesday, but not as high as Tuesday due to lighter winds,” Zarrow said. “The atmosphere is bone-dry, and so is the ground. In fact, most of New Jersey has been completely rain-free for over a week.”

Two fires broke out in the Meadowlands on Tuesday that sent black plumes of smoke into the air, visible for miles around. A fire in Kearny was very close to the Northeast Corridor tracks along Harrison Avenue, leading NJ Transit and Amtrak to hold trains in Newark and New York during the afternoon. That, in turn, led to major delays for the afternoon commute.

Secaucus mayor Michael Gonnelli told the Bergen Record the fire in his town was “one of the bigger fires we’ve had” in the past several years. That fire was very close to Exit 16E of the NJ Turnpike.

Meadowlands wildfires suspend some NJ Transit, close several Turnpike lanes

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service did not get involved in yesterday’s fires but is still prepared to respond quickly to any fires that break out, according to Bob Geist, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. He said an extra air patrol and additional firefighters are on call, ready to respond.

“Fires can spread very rapidly if they are not detected and suppressed rapidly. If a fire has started in the right fuels, (it) 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,” Geist said.

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