Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Forest fire in NJ Pines now 65 percent contained

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection reports this afternoon that a forest fire that has destroyed about 1,000 acres of in Woodland Township, Burlington County, is now about 65 percent contained.

ABC 6's Nora Muchanic reports:

"Measurable rain we haven't had for at least two weeks," Incident Commander Scott Knauer told Action News Tuesday morning. "And what happens is, the bigger, dead fuels like logs, large branches - they are completely consumed down to ash."

50 firefighters from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service are fighting the blaze along with plows, a helicopter and 15 brush trucks that are able to penetrate the sandy forest.

On Monday they cut a containment line around the fire and set backfires along the perimeter.

Officials say the interior of that line continues to burn.

"There are some interior pockets that are still burning out," said Knauer, "which is to be expected. It's going to cause some smoke, some smoke drift in Manchester Township, Lacey Township, eastern parts of Ocean County."

The cause of the blaze, which started in Woodland, Burlington County and spread to Manchester, Ocean County has not yet been determined.

A team of investigators, including representatives from the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office are examining the site where the fire started.
Included in that group is a "Cause and Origin" expert.

"The containment lines are holding," said Knauer. "Each hour that goes by, we're making better progress."

The Asbury Park Press's Susanne Cervenka reports that the fire "is a significant size, but is far from being the biggest the Pinelands has seen. In May 2007, a wildfire burned 17,000 acres and forced many residents to evacuate.

New Jersey is abnormally dry for this time of year, and the Pine Barrens are at the greatest risk for fire because of the scrubby oak and dry pine trees characteristic of the ecosystem there.

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