SHINN'S STATEMENT ON 1,600 ACRE WARREN GROVE FIRE
Department of Environmental Protection
Commissioner Bob Shinn today announced that New Jersey Forest
Fire Service will continue to patrol the area in Warren
Grove, Burlington County where a 1,600 acre wildfire was
ignited on Sunday, June 10. Shinn says the patrols are necessary
due to continued dry and windy conditions and smoldering
Additionally, Shinn stated that the New
Jersey Department of Military Affairs, New Jersey Forest
Fire Service, and the Ocean County Prosecutor 's Office
determined that the wildfire was caused by a 25 pound Bomb
Dummy Unit (BDU) dropped by a New Jersey Air National Guard
aircraft. The BDU fell outside of the normal area used for
air to ground operations, into an area not cleared of brush.
Shinn said that he has been informed that
the state will be reimbursed for Forest Fire Service suppression
costs by the New Jersey Department of Military Affairs.
The cause of the errant drop is under investigation by the
New Jersey Air National Guard.
"The Warren Grove Target Range is used
by all military services for practice bombing on a daily
basis, and adjustments in operation are made during periods
of high fire danger," said Shinn. "Unfortunately, sometimes
mechanical failures in the aircraft can cause the dummy
bombs to go astray, and this likely is the cause of the
bomb going off of the bombing-range property." The bomb
landed in the Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area, adjacent
to the Warren Grove Target Range he said.
DEP Chief/State Firewarden Dave Harrison
was patrolling the area by helicopter where another small
fire was burning when he discovered smoke from a new wildfire
that spread rapidly along the Pine Barrens forests of Bass
River and Little Egg Harbor townships. He along with a Forest
Fire Service observer stationed on ground at Apple Pie Lookout
Tower called in the fire at the same time.
Harrison stated that hazard reduction through
the use of prescribed burning is also performed within the
Target Range to reduce the risk of causing a wildfire. He
said that fire danger was considered to be acceptable for
range operations in the target area on Sunday.
"It could have been worse," said Harrison
who praised the 50 New Jersey fire fighters who immediately
responded to the scene. "This fire rapidly spread to 1,600
acres in five hours."
DEP's Bureau of Forest Fire Management
is responsible for protecting 3.2 million acres of state
and private forests. For further information call State
Forest Fire Headquarters at 609-292-2997 or Central New
Jersey, New Lisbon at 609-726-9010.