DEP ISSUES FOREST FIRE
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.
"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,"
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.