Update: Wharton State Forest Fire Burns 13,500 Acres, Now 95% Contained
UPDATE 4:15 PM Tuesday: The New Jersey Forest Fire Service says the Wharton State Forest fire is now 95% contained.
UPDATE 11:00 AM Tuesday: The New Jersey Forest Fire Service says they are "making substantial progress" against the wildfire in Wharton State Forest, which has burned 13,500 acres but is now 85% contained.
Route 206 and County Route 542 have reopened.
Attractions, such as Batsto Village, the Atsion Recreation Area, and trails in the area, along with campgrounds remain closed. Kayak and canoe launching along the Mullica River is closed from the Atsion Recreation Area to Batsto Village.
18 structures are threatened. There are no reported injuries.
UPDATE 7:30 PM Monday: The New Jersey Forest Fire Service says the blaze in Wharton State Forest has burned 12,000 acres and is now 70% contained.
UPDATE 3:15 PM Monday: The New Jersey Forest Fire Service says the blaze in Wharton State Forest has burned 11,000 acres and is now 50% contained.
Forest Fire Service crews have continued conducting backfiring operations throughout the day to aid in containment.
Atlantic County public health officials remind residents to take precautions as wildfire smoke can pose a threat to those with health issues. If you have asthma or other lung conditions, follow your respiratory management plan.
UPDATE 1:00 PM Monday: During a press conference Monday afternoon, Greg McLaughlin, Chief of the NJ Forest Fire Service, says this fire could spread to 15,000 acres before it's brought under control, which would make it the largest forest fire in the state since 2007.
NJ.com reports, "the fire’s cause remains under investigation, though natural cause [has] been ruled out," according to officials.
Residents across a good portion of Atlantic County have reported small pieces of ash falling from the sky from late Sunday night through Monday afternoon.
UPDATE 12 Noon Monday: A weather radar image shows a thick plume of smoke traveling towards the coast.
Video from WPVI-TV shows the extent of the fire:
Still very dry and breezy
A weather reporting station just west of Hammonton at noon Monday reported a relative humidity of 28%, which means the air remains very dry, with northwesterly winds at around 15 MPH, which is pushing the smoke toward the coast.
UPDATE 10:30 AM Monday: The fire has grown to 7,200 acres and is 45% contained, per the NJ Forest Fire Service.
The New Jersey Forest Fire Service continues to make progress on containing a wildfire in Wharton State Forest - Washington, Shamong, Hammonton & Mullica Townships. . . . Forest Fire Service crews will continue conducting backfiring operations throughout the day to aid in containment.
Officials say 18 structures are threatened. Structure protection is in place and provided by local volunteer fire departments from Atlantic, Burlington, and Ocean Counties.
Route 206 and County Route 542 remain closed as do trails and attractions in the area.
UPDATE 11:00 PM Sunday: The fire has grown to 2,100 acres and is 20% contained, per the NJ Forest Fire Service.
The following roads are being impacted:
- Route 206 (just north of Hammonton) will close at midnight from Chew Road to Stokes Road.
- County Route 542 is closed from Green Bank Road (in Green Bank, lower Burlington County), through the Batsto area, to Columbia Road (in the Nesco section of Mullica Township).
UPDATE 7:30 PM Sunday: The fire has spread to 600 acres and is 10% contained. Six structures are threatened. Batsto Village is closed until further notice.
Original report - 12:45 PM Sunday:
The New Jersey Forest Fire Service says crews are battling a wildfire in a remote section of Wharton State Forest in western Washington Township, Burlington County, along the Mullica River.
An alert was posted to Facebook just before 12:30 Sunday afternoon.
Closures and cancellations (Sunday)
Firefighters say no structures are at risk, however Mullica River Campground, Mullica River Trail, at boat launches in the area are closed. Additionally, Pinelands Adventures has suspended kayak and canoe trips for today.
Information about the size of the blaze was not immediately available.
Dry and windy weather
Firefighters find themselves with the weather not helping their efforts. Winds are gusting to nearly 30 MPH at Atlantic City International Airport with low relative humidity values around 35%.