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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2012

Contact: Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Bob Considine (609) 984-1795

FOREST FIRE SERVICE BATTLING WILDFIRE IN THE PINELANDS IN BURLINGTON COUNTY

(12/P41) TRENTON - The New Jersey Forest Fire Service and Burlington County firefighters are working to contain a 600-acre wildfire that was discovered in a rural area early this morning and is currently burning in Tabernacle and Woodland Townships in the heart of the Pinelands.

Approximately 60 Forest Service personnel have been joined by dozens of Burlington County volunteers to battle the blaze, which is expected to eventually cover some 1,000 acres, and to protect some 25 homes that are situated in the vicinity of the fire. Fire mitigation efforts have been employed around each of the homes, including use of backfires, to protect the isolated residences, which are situated in the woods.  

There have been no reports of injuries and no mandatory evacuations at this time.

“Our crews are working very hard to contain and extinguish this fire, and to ensure that area residents are protected,’’ said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, who toured the area this morning. “With current dry conditions and low humidity creating a high danger for wildfires, it is important to remind all New Jersey residents and visitors to exercise extreme caution to prevent wildfires at this particularly vulnerable time.’’

“The Forest Fire Service is increasing fire patrols and we are increasing our response capabilities as this drying trend continues,” added State Forest Fire Service Acting Chief Michael Drake. “But we need your help to prevent fires and to alert us if you see or suspect one.’’

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning in effect until Monday evening. Wind gusts are expected to reach 40 MPH later today.

The Tabernacle/Woodland fire was discovered just after midnight when a resident made a 911 call to Burlington County authorities to report a smoky odor. A state fire warden was promptly notified and soon discovered the ongoing blaze.

Personnel on the ground are using bulldozers and heavy equipment to create containment lines, while support also is being offered by helicopters and air tankers.

There are two road closures in Tabernacle due to the fire. Sooy Place Road, near Route 563, and a portion of South Park Road have been closed.

Wildfires can spread quickly in New Jersey, threatening homes, property, natural resources and human lives, yet most are preventable.

Follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of fires:

  • Use ashtrays in vehicles. Discarding cigarettes, matches and smoking materials is a violation of New Jersey law.
  •  Obtain necessary permits for campfires. Don't leave fires unattended. Douse them completely.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children. Teach them the dangers of fire.
  •  People living in the forest should maintain a defensible buffer by clearing vegetation within 30 feet of any structures. Also, make sure fire trucks can pass down your driveway.
  • Report suspicious vehicles and individuals. Arson is a major cause of forest fires in New Jersey.

For more information on wildfires and fire safety, visit www.njwildfire.org

MEDIA: An incident Command Post has been set up at the South Park Gun Club, Route 532, Chatsworth.

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Last Updated: March 27, 2012