Firefighters Contain One New Jersey Wildfire as Second Starts

Second fire burns in the Brendan Byrne State Forest

 

A firefighter sprays water on a section of woods in Little Egg Harbor, N.J., on Monday, May 17, 2021 at the periphery of a forest fire that had burned several hundred acres since breaking out a day earlier. Firefighters were making progress against the blaze on its second day. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

 

By WAYNE PARRY Associated Press

LITTLE EGG HARBOR, N.J. (AP) — As New Jersey firefighters gained control of one forest fire in the heavily wooded Pinelands region, a second broke out, and was halfway contained as of Tuesday afternoon.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service said it had fully contained a 617-acre fire in and around Little Egg Harbor Township as of Tuesday morning.

But firefighters from that service as well as numerous local departments were summoned to a second fire that broke out Monday night in the Brendan Byrne State Forest in Pemberton Township.

That fire, which was reported at 8:30 p.m. Monday, was 50% contained as of Tuesday afternoon.

No buildings were threatened by the 407-acre Pemberton blaze, and no injuries were reported in either of the fires, said Greg McLaughlin, chief of the forest fire service.

But dry conditions, low humidity and increasing winds were causing concern that additional fires might break out in coming days. State officials said they are considering imposing restrictions including banning campfires and agricultural burning later this week if conditions do not rapidly improve.

“There’s still going to remain a risk of fires,” McLaughlin said Tuesday. “Today is windy, which is going to increase the risk.”

Trevor Raynor, the incident commander in charge of firefighting efforts at the Little Egg Harbor fire, also noted that natural factors have contributed to the fire risk.

“With the super-dry conditions, and Gypsy moth-killed trees, there are a lot of dead trees in the forest,” he said.

“We have had very little rainfall,” added Jeremy Webber, an assistant fire warden with the state.

Firefighters had not yet determined how either of the blazes started.

The Little Egg Harbor fire came close to reaching homes in a nearby residential neighborhood.

“It came to people’s back yards,” Raynor said. “It came that close.”

Firefighters remained on the scene of that fire Tuesday, dousing hot spots and smoldering areas with water from pumper trucks.

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Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC.

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