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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 6, 2005

Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 292-2994

HOT, DRY AUTUMN PROMPTS DEP TO OFFER TIPS ON WILDFIRE PREVENTION

(05/119) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today warned that the danger of wildfires is rising sharply in New Jersey's forests and woodland areas due to unusually dry and hot weather.

During September, the state Forest Fire Service responded to 181 wildfires that burned 396 acres. This is much greater than last year's 39 wildfires that burned 11 acres for the same period.

"Fire danger is always high during autumn when plants and trees shed their foliage, allowing the drying rays of the sun to strike the forest floor," Campbell said. "Visitors and residents of forests and open lands in the state are reminded to exercise caution with smoking materials and the use of equipment that could discharge sparks. Ninety-nine percent of all wildfires in New Jersey are caused by human activity."

Fire danger is currently at high to very high, signifying that fires will start from a lighted match or glowing embers and spread rapidly as they increase in size. Recreational fire restrictions are in place statewide with varying levels based on local conditions.

Wildfires can spread quickly, threatening homes, property, natural resources and human lives.

To reduce the risk of wildfires, please follow these guidelines:

  • Use ashtrays in vehicles. Littering of smoking materials is a violation of New Jersey law.
  • Keep lighters and matches away from children and explain the dangers of fire.
  • People living in forested areas should maintain a defensible buffer by clearing vegetation within 30 feet of structures. Also make sure emergency vehicles can access your driveway.
  • Report suspicious vehicles and individuals. Arson is a major cause of wildfires in New Jersey.
  • Check with your local Forest Firewarden for up to date burning restrictions.
  • Obtain permits for all outdoor and recreational fires.

For specific fire restrictions or fire danger for your area, visit the Forest Fire Service Web site www.njwildfire.org.

 

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Last Updated: October 6, 2005