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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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July 25, 2003

Contact: Jack Kaskey

New Jersey DEP Lends Support to Combat Fires Out West

(03/103) TRENTON --- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Forest Fire Service has joined the fight against the furious fires in the West, sending 66 wildland firefighters to lend support this past week.

"New Jersey's forest firefighters provide a valuable resource that is in short supply in the West," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "At the same time, this service sharpens the skills of our firefighters, allowing New Jersey to benefit from the best wildfire protection possible."

Three crews of full- and part-time firefighters are assisting with fires consuming the Modoc and Tahoe National Forests in northern California and the Big Spring Fire in Wyoming. Six additional wildland firefighters are assigned to various fires in Colorado, New Mexico, Montana and Washington. Assignments last 14 days, plus travel time.

About 2,000 paid and volunteer forest firefighters remain in New Jersey. As the fire season continues, the DEP will make additional resources available to assist in the national wildfire control effort.

The US Forest Service provides full reimbursement to the State of New Jersey for all services under the terms of the Cooperative Fire Control Agreement.

New Jersey's fire season has been relatively mild. Firefighters have put out 526 wildfires on 1,384 acres so far this year, compared with 1,287 fires on 3,166 acres during the same period last year. The forest fire danger is currently moderate.

Almost all wildfires in New Jersey are caused by people, either accidentally or intentionally. Wildfires can spread quickly, threatening homes, property, natural resources and human lives.

To reduce the risk of fires, people should follow these guidelines:

  • Use ashtrays in vehicles.
  • Don't leave fires unattended, and drown campfires to put them out.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children and explain to 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 firetrucks can pass down your driveway.
  • Report suspicious vehicles and individuals. Arson is a major cause of forest fires in New Jersey.

Fire permits are required for recreational fires, as well as for agricultural burning. Remember, the New Jersey Air Pollution Control Act prohibits open burning of rubbish, garbage, trade waste, buildings, fallen timber and leaves or plants.



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