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CONTACT: Rachel Hamilton 609 984 1795
Al Ivany 609 292 2994

DEP Urges Public To Be Fire Wise
Drought Emergency Increases Need for Extra Precautions

TRENTON 03/18-- After experiencing one of the driest years on record, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell cautioned today that the chance of fires early in the spring forest fire season have increased dramatically.

"Residents and visitors to the state should take extra safety precautions in New Jersey's forested regions, recreational areas and in areas where homes are located near wildlands and forests during this critical forest fire period - from March 15 through May 15," said Commissioner Campbell.

Spring weather conditions such as high winds and higher temperatures coupled with low humidity can spur wildfires. Even when spring rains fall on New Jersey, forests can dry out in one to two days.

Wildfires spread quickly and threaten homes, property, natural resources, wildlife and human lives. During this past year 1,929 wildfires consumed 4,476 acres of forest; since October 1, there have been 1,116 wildfires, which represents the busiest winter for the Division of Parks and Forestry in more than three decades.

But taking fire prevention steps can lessen the likelihood of fires. "Fire protection in wildland/urban interface areas is everyone's responsibility," said Campbell, adding that, "Wildfires have the potential to affect entire communities. Most wildfires are caused by human carelessness or arson."

Recreational fire permits are restricted, administered and coordinated through the Forest Fire Service. To obtain permits or information on permits for recreational fees, telephone the DEP Forest Fire Office in your area.

For more information on fire prevention please visit our web site at Or call one of our three Forest Fire Headquarters: North - located in Sussex County 201 827 6100; Central - located in Burlington County 609 726 9010; or South - located in Atlantic County 609 625 1121.

For up-to-date information on the state's drought conditions as well as open burning and water-use restrictions please visit

Fire Prevention Guidelines

  • Use ashtrays in vehicles. Never discard cigarettes, matches or any smoking materials from your vehicle; this is a violation of State law.

  • Maintain a defensible space buffer of at least 30 feet around homes and other structures in forested areas.

  • Report suspicious vehicles and individuals. Arson is a major cause of fires in New Jersey.

  • Obtain the necessary permits for campfires and always drown campfires before leaving the site. Never leave a fire unattended.

  • Parents are encouraged to explain to their children the dangers of fires and not to play with matches.

  • Check with you local Forest Fire warden about burning conditions.

The New Jersey Pollution Control Act prohibits open burning of rubbish, garbage, trade waste, buildings, fallen timber and leaves or plant life.




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Last Updated: April 16, 2009