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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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RELEASE: 10/30/01

CONTACT: Sharon A. Southard or Amy Collings
(609) 984-1795 or 609-292-2994


State Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn today announced that campfire restrictions have been imposed at state-owned outdoor recreation facilities in central and southern New Jersey.

Shinn said that gusty winds and lack of rainfall recently resulted in a series of 69 wildfires this past weekend burning more than 125 acres of New Jersey's forests. He also noted that New Jersey's forests are most vulnerable to wildfire during the annual spring fire season from Mar. 15-May 15 and the fall fire season from Oct. 15-Nov. 30.

"Campfire restrictions will remain in effect until rainfall adequately reduces wildfire danger and we determine it is safe to lift the restrictions, " said Shinn. "We want everyone to be informed of the increasing threat of forest fires and the precautions we are taking to insure the safety of visitors to our parks and forests. Uncontrolled fires can spread quickly and threaten homes, property, wildlife and lives," Shinn said.

Acting Chief/State Firewarden Maris Gabliks of the DEP's Forest Fire Service stated that central and southern New Jersey are under stage #2 restrictions which prohibit all fires in wooded areas unless in an elevated prepared fireplace, elevated grill, or stove using charcoal, propane, natural gas or electricity. An elevated prepared fireplace must be constructed of steel, stone, brick or concrete with the fire elevated at least one foot above the ground surface. An elevated charcoal grill may be stationary or portable, but must be located within an area cleared of all organic material at 10 feet in all directions.

Gabliks stated that further restrictions may be added later in the week. He said the extended weather forecast through Saturday is calling for cool and dry conditions all week with only a very slight chance of rainfall over the weekend. Since January, 1,375 wildfires have burned over 3,874 acres in New Jersey.

Last Thursday, several wildfires occurred including 30 acres at Glen Gray in Mahwah (Bergen County), 20 acres in Monroe Township (Gloucester County), and 20 acres in Winslow Township (Camden County). Another 80 acres burned in Pemberton Township (Burlington County) on Saturday, along with 68 smaller fires statewide.

"Visitors to our recreation areas and year-round camping facilities are asked to be extremely careful with matches, cigarettes and other potential sources of ignition. Also, use ash trays in vehicles, report suspicious vehicles and individuals, drown campfires, obtain necessary permits and never leave fires unattended," said Gabliks. "And, parents should keep matches and cigarette lighters away from children and explain the dangers of fire," he added.

According to Gabliks, the occurrence of wildfires is a largely preventable problem with nine out of 10 fires being attributed to either human carelessness or intentional acts.

The New Jersey Bureau of Forest Fire Management is part of DEP's Division of Parks and Forestry, and is responsible for protecting 3.15 million acres of New Jersey open space from wildfires. The service has 82 full-time paid employees and a large part-time force on call throughout the year to handle the state's forest fire problems and perform a variety of related functions. The service is under the direction of the state firewarden.



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Last Updated: October 31, 2001