1,000-acre Pine Barrens forest fire blamed on campfire charcoal
The wildfire that burned 1,000 acres in the Pine Barrens in Burlington and Ocean counties is being blamed on carelessness.
A post on the New Jersey State Forestry Services Facebook page says "improper disposal of charcoal briquettes from an unauthorized campfire on neighboring private property caused this fire," which started on Monday afternoon and was declared to be 100 percent contained 24 hours later.
The conclusion is the result of a joint investigation by the State Forestry Services' Forest Fire Service, State Park Police, NJ Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement, Burlington County Fire Marshall, and Ocean County Prosecutors Office.
The post did not identify any individuals considered responsible.
Crews remain in the area of the fire in the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area just off Route 72 to monitor the containment lines as the last of the fire burns out according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.
The smell from the fire that permeated central New Jersey and beyond on Tuesday — at times reaching as far as New York — is greatly reduced on Wednesday.
A lack of rain the past several weeks and dry conditions in the forest helped fuel the fire according to Larry Hajna, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. "Very hot temperatures and high humidity will make for challenging firefighting conditions today," says meteorologist Dan Zarrow. "The fire danger remains high until we get some widespread substantial rain, which looks to happen tomorrow."
Hajna said on Monday that around 50 firefighters were working on the fire including 15 brush trucks, 2 water tankers and and two plows. Several local fire companies also assisted.