If you see smoke in large wooded areas beginning today, don't panic.

New Jersey Forest Fire officials are conducting controlled or prescribed burns in wooded areas around the Garden State.

The small, deliberately set and closely monitored fires burn brush, leaves, pine needles and branches along with other possible fuel for a larger fire. Doing so can stave off trouble when the ground becomes dry.

New Jersey's forest fire season starts in late March but could arrive earlier this year due to the drier than normal conditions and the lack of snow this Winter.