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Route 72 reopened as Pinelands fire grows to 10,000 hectares | News



A pinelands forest fire that started in Burlington County on Saturday grew to 10,000 acres on Sunday when the crews fought for the flame, where officials said smoke spots were visible as far south as Atlantic City.

The fire broke out at 1:45 pm in the Penn State Forest in Woodland Township and spread to the border of Ocean County near Barnegat Township. By Sunday afternoon, it covered 1

0,000 acres and was 75 percent contained, said Larry Hajna, a state environmental ministry spokesman.

The reason for the fire is under investigation, Hajna said. It was not the result of a prescribed burn, he said. High winds contributed to the spread of the fire.

Officials said most of the affected area is wooded, with few homes or buildings nearby.

Hajna said there were no injuries or mandatory evacuations.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service's B10 Division said on its website that the fire called the "Spring Hill Wildfire" was considered a "big forest fire" that will increase in size as the burnout continues. Part of route 72 was closed on Sunday but reopened later in the afternoon because of the fire.

Residual smoke could be seen from the Atlantic City area to Sandy Hook, said Ocean County Sheriff's Office in a Facebook post.

Egg Harbor City resident Nicole Farruggio-Taylor said she drove over the lower bank bridge in Washington Township around 4:30 am on Saturday when she saw a "big smoke drain" in the sky. She pointed it out to her family members in the car.

"We wondered if it was a forest fire or a controlled fire," she said. "It seemed to be located from where we saw it."

Heavy winds Saturday and the recent dry weather made it easy for wild game to spread, said Jonathan O & # 39; Brien, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly. [19659013] Rain showers that started on Sunday afternoon helped hold the fire, but the winds will pick up again in the evening and can make the fight more challenging, he said.

"The rain showers have been beneficial today," he said. "But firefighters will still deal with rather hideous conditions (Sunday night)."

A burning smell was reported as far as North Jersey. Wycoff and Clark law enforcement officers advised residents to visibly smoke and smell the odor filtered in North Jersey on Sunday morning.

Brien said that there could have been poor air quality in the smoke plume's road in North Jersey. The wind will change from south to west on Sunday evening, and any smoking smoke will now be directed to the Jersey Shore.

"The trend must be for improvement as the containment effort continues. … In most areas, it wasn't a problem to begin with because it was a local plume of reduced air quality," he said.

In a statement, Governor Phil Murphy called on residents of Burlington and Ocean County to "pay attention."

"We remind all of them in and around the affected area to remain vigilant and adhere to security officials' instructions," Murphy said. "We are grateful for the prompt response of the courageous men and women who have worked tirelessly overnight to keep the fire in a position to prevent damage and loss of life for our residents."

In March, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service has been setting up prescribed burns in Pinelands to get rid of brush and leaving the burning fires in the spring.

Forest fire season typically spans April and May in New Jersey, when there is hot and windy weather, low humidity and increased day length. The fire department manages two controlled burns in Galloway Township last week.


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