80 acres burn near Delaware Water Gap, but worst seems over
The battle against a wildfire in the Delaware Water Gap is winding down, but will likely continue through the night and until rain arrives on Tuesday.
The fire on Mt. Tammany in Worthington State Forest and the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap started Sunday afternoon. It was 80% contained after burning through 80 acres as of Monday afternoon, according to State Fire Warden Greg McLaughlin. There are no structures in the fire area and there were no evacuations, McLaughlin said.
Only two acres of land that are part of the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area burned in the fire.
More than 40 firefighters from a number of departments on both sides of the river helped fight the fire. Helicopters were used on Monday to not only dump water on the flames but to quickly move crews to the top of the mountain, according to McLaughlin, who said no firefighters were injured during the fire.
The westbound lanes of Route 80 were temporarily closed around 2 p.m. on Monday to put out the flames in some large trees along the highway. The Blue Dot Trail and Red Dot Trails remained closed on Monday.
McLaughlin said the firefighting effort was moving Monday afternoon from an "initial attack suppression" to "mop up."
"Tonight we'll be slowly releasing some of the resources. We had crews from the central part of the state and the southern part of the state come lend a hand and the relieve some of the crews that worked through the night," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said the fire would be determined to be out once a half inch of rain falls.
New Jersey 101.5 chief meteorologist Dan Zarrow said A storm system will impact New Jersey from late Monday through early Thursday.
"While it does not look like a big soaker for New Jersey, a half-inch of healthy rainfall is possible in the northwest corner of the state," Zarrow said.
Chris Franek, assistant division forest fire warden, said the fire started south of the trailhead at the 1,400-foot level along the Red Dot Trail, and then backed its way down the slope before moving back up the hill. Burning logs and embers from the fire were also a concern to firefighters, according to Franek.
An investigation into a cause of the fire only got started on Monday.
Franek said that the fire is actually good for the forest, in a way.
"There was no substantial damage. It's almost a rejuvenation process for the forest because it consumed the layer of leafs and vegetation on the ground," Franek said.
McLaughlin said the fire is unusually early in the season, as there is normally a snow pack in northern New Jersey forest to help with potential fires.
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