Firefighters are are battling a forest fire that quickly spread to more than a thousand acres in the Pine Barrens of Burlington County.

Smoke and haze from the fire in the Penn State Forest area of Washington Township can can be seen as far north as Toms River in Ocean County, Freehold in Monmouth County and Newark. The smoke is also visible on radar.

Officials closed Route 72 west of Route 539 in Barnegat.

Local fire departments and the Forest Fire Service are on the scene.

6ABC Action News, citing official sources, initially reported the fire began as a controlled burn, but later updated that report to say that wasn't the case.

As of early Saturday evening, authorities had not ordered any residential evacuations.

New Jersey 101.5 Meteorologist Dan Zarrow says the season's low humidity increases the risk of fire. His forecast calls for rain on Sunday morning, which he says should bring some relief.

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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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