TRENTON — Gathering clouds and an increasing chance of showers through midweek sent New Jersey Forest Fire Service crews into woodlands of four Central and South Jersey counties Monday, conducting prescribed burns to clear dead underbrush.

There is just enough wind to send the smoke wafting considerable distances — might catch the aroma, despite being nowhere near a burn site.

Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said that a controlled burn at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst could be seen on radar early Monday afternoon.

"The stiff southwesterly breeze (gusting to 20 mph) could carry smoky haze and smell into parts of Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties. That would certainly include New Egypt, Jackson, and Freehold... and possibly as far north as Matawan and Old Bridge," he said.

Other burns on Monday, according to the DEP include:

    • Ocean County:  Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area, Little Egg Harbor; Greenwood Wildlife Management Area, Lacey Township; Manchester Wildlife Management Area, Manchester Township.
    • Monmouth County:  Upper Freehold, in Monmouth County Park and the Pheasant Run Wildlife Management Area.
    • Burlington County: Rancocas State Park in Westampton and Brendan Byrne State Park in Woodland Township.
    • Camden County: Waterford Township's section of Wharton State Forest.

Prescribed burns, according to the Forest Fire Service, clear away dead twigs, branches and leaves that feed wildfires and accelerate the risks of widespread damage and safety risks. They say that it also promotes healthier vegetation growth.

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