Brush fires were burning several dozen acres of woods and marsh Wednesday afternoon in South and Central Jersey.

In the southern end of the state, a brush fire burned over 30 acres of grassy marsh in Bass River on the border of Atlantic and Burlington counties, sending large columns of smoke into the air.

Larry Hajna, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the fire was 75 percent contained by 4 p.m. and burning along the west side shoulder of the Garden State Parkway

The ramp from the southbound Parkway at Exit 48 to Route 9 in Bass River off the Garden State Parkway was closed along with the right lane.

Several aircraft, including a helicopter dropping water, are involved with the containment effort plus wildland fire engines, plow trucks and several crews on the ground. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Earlier in the day, a 7-acre fire was burning in the Watchung Mountain Reservation in Scotch Plains. Hajna said that fire was still being monitored for hot spots. Nearby residents could smell smoke from the fire which started on Tuesday afternoon.

"It's been a very dry March here in New Jersey, with much of the state's rainfall totaling around 2+ inches below normal as of today," New Jersey 101.5 meteorologist Dan Zarrow saod. "There is rain in the forecast from Thursday night into Friday that will certainly help the fire danger situation. But gusty winds are also in the forecast every day through the middle of next week, so the wildfire risk will probably stay on the high side for the foreseeable future."

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