🔥 A plane crash likely started a major wildfire in Ocean County

🔥 The blaze has grown to 100 acres and threatens 25 structures

🔥 The pilot was killed in the crash, according to multiple reports

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: The wildfire grew to 831 acres and was 70% contained as of Labor Day morning.

Lacey police said the wreckage of a small private plane was discovered Sunday by fire agencies responding to a report of smoke condition off Dover and West Lacey roads on Saturday just before midnight.

Fire around the crash blocked rescuers from reaching the wreck right away, officials said. The Forest Fire Service began battling the fire as it continued to spread.

The identity of the pilot had not been confirmed by late Monday morning, police said.

Earlier story below

LACEY — Firefighters are battling a growing wildfire near an animal sanctuary after a fatal small plane crash early Sunday morning.

Crews are fighting the blaze in Lacey near the Robert J. Miller Airpark, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service said on social media. The blaze threatens 25 structures and is zero percent contained as of 10:40 a.m. Sunday. The major wildfire had grown to 325 acres as of 2:50 p.m.

Nearby roads including sections of both Dover Road and Mule Road were closed as of 6 a.m. and people were told to avoid the area.

Both the Berkely and Lacey police said in alerts that road closures could change throughout the day due to heavy smoke. People should expect a "strong smell of smoke" east of the Garden State Parkway from Stafford to Lakewood, the Ocean County Sheriff's Department said on Facebook.

The blaze may have been caused by a plane crash in the area early Sunday morning. A single-engine Cirrus SR22 crashed in the woods in Toms River around 2:30 a.m., the FFA said in a statement to New Jersey 101.5.

Only the pilot was on board the craft. The National Transportation Safety Board will be in charge of investigating the crash.

Google Maps/Canva
Google Maps/Canva

The pilot was killed in the crash and the crash likely started the blaze, NBC10 and multiple other outlets reported.

New Jersey 101.5 has reached out to Lacey police to confirm that the pilot was killed. State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Hajna said he could not yet confirm the cause of the blaze as of 10:30 a.m.

The area is near the Popcorn Park Animal Refuge. The sanctuary was closed Sunday due to the fire but all of its animals are "safe and sound," it said on Facebook.

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