Fire burns over 3,000 acres in South Jersey forest
HAMMONTON — A smoky fire inside a remote area of Wharton State Forest charred more than 3,000 acres on Thursday and early Friday.
Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Bob Geist said the fire in Burlington County remained at 70 percent contained late Friday afternoon. Backfires were set to improve containment and to prevent any jumps and the spread of the fire was expected.
"The fire is continuing to consume interior unburned pockets of fuel such as downed trees, forest floor clutter like.leaves and branches," Geist said. "Crews will continue patrolling and holding containment lines as the fire progresses through unburned interior pockets of fuel. The unburned pockets are well away from the fire containment lines." The size of the fire will increase as more fuels are consumed within the containment area.
About 50 members of the Forest Fire Service battled the blaze with six attack trucks, two bulldozers and a water tender as well as a helicopter.
No lives or property were in danger, according to Geist, who said the Batso Village and visitor center and all trails, including the Batona Trail, were closed due to smoke.
Several campgrounds were closed as a result of smoke and ash, including Mullica River Camp, Lower Forge Camp, Hawkins Bridge Camp and Godfrey Bridge Camp.
Smoke from the fire was also picked up on satellite.
Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronardy issued an alert that smoke could be smelled in parts of the county, including Long Beach Island.
State Police, State Park Police, State Conservation officers, Washington Township OEM, Washington Township Emergency Services and Bass River Township Emergency Services were all involved with fire fighting efforts.
Dan Zarrow contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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