Dry conditions pose fire hazard in N.J.

Dry conditions this year are increasing the wildfire danger in New Jersey.

Only about six inches of rain has been recorded statewide since the beginning of January. It’s the third driest start of a year on record.

The fire danger level is high, says Steve Maurer, an assistant warden with the New Jersey Fire Service.

“The leaves are not out on the trees yet, so the sunshine actually is progressing right down through the canopy and warming and drying out the forest floors,” Maurer said. “So it’s very conducive to the start of a fire.”

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Maurer says people cause 99 percent of woodlands fires in the Garden State. He’s says using ashtrays instead of tossing lit cigarettes from vehicles can help reduce the fire risk.

Even though groundwater and stream levels are low, state climatologist Dave Robinson says New Jersey’s reservoirs are still in good shape because of record precipitation last year.

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