Two Forest Fires Burning Along Atlantic City Expressway
Two forest fires in the southern New Jersey Pinelands were expected to blacken 400 acres Friday before being contained, the state Forest Fire Service said.
Steve Maurer, a warden with the fire service, said no injuries or evacuations were reported. The fires, burning either in or near the Winslow Wildlife Management Area in Camden County, were not threatening any homes or property. There was no immediate word on what caused them.
The bigger of the two fires was burning alongside the Atlantic City Expressway, but a strong wind was blowing smoke away from the roadway, which remained open.
"We're working hard with the State Police to mitigate any traffic problems that might arise from this," Maurer said.
The main fire was expected to burn 375 acres before it reaches the edge of containment areas set up on all four sides of it, he said. The smaller one had burned about 25 acres and was 100 percent contained by mid-afternoon. Barring any drastic wind shifts, the larger fire was expected to remain within the containment lines, Maurer said.
There were 55 firefighters battling the blazes, backed by 14 brush fire trucks, four tractors, four water tanker trucks, two helicopters and an airplane that drops water on fires.
Smoke was visible as far away as Atlantic City, 30 miles to the east, and Trenton, 34 miles to the north.
The fire service said conditions were perfect across the state for wildfires, with little rain in recent weeks, and strong winds fanning flames.
A fire Thursday in Lacey Township burned six acres of marshland and a half-acre of forest, briefly threatening some homes.
The blazes came just days after the state issued forest fire danger alerts and restricted campfires in many places. "It is paramount that New Jersey residents and visitors exercise extreme caution to prevent wildfires at this particularly vulnerable time, with little rain and low humidity," said Michael Drake, acting chief of the fire service.
The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning, alerting residents of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania to the potential for wildfires. Roadway signs along the Garden State Parkway advised motorists of the increased danger of forest fires and urged them not to toss cigarettes out the window.
As of Wednesday, the most recent date for which statistics were available, the Forest Fire Service had responded to 359 wildfires that burned a total of 286 acres, compared with 190 fires that
burned 186 acres during the same period last year.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
The National Weather Service in Mount Holly has issued a red flag warning... which is in effect from 11 am this morning to 8 PM EDT this evening for New Jersey west and south of Passaic... Bergen... Hudson... Essex... and Union counties.