Lightning ignites Pinelands fire that scorched 3,500 acres

     New Jersey Forest Fire Service image.

    New Jersey Forest Fire Service image.

    Officials say a fire that burned 3,500 acres in a remote part of New Jersey’s Wharton State Forest was started by a lightning strike.

    The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said Monday that several trees were struck Wednesday night. Investigators believe a pine tree caught fire and the flames spread to nearby trees before the blaze was noticed Thursday from a fire tower. 

    The blaze, dubbed the “Penn Swamp Wildfire,” was within located north of Batsto Village in Burlington County. It did not destroy any structures, and there were no injuries. But the wildfire impacted several bike and hiking trails.

    On Friday morning, the forest fire was 30% contained while crews performed a large burn-out operation.  As of Monday afternoon, the agency said the fire was completely contained and controlled.

    Smoke drifted through parts of New Jersey and the Jersey Shore while the fire burned. Jersey Shore Hurricane News contributors reported smoke drifting through Ocean and Atlantic counties late Thursday night through Saturday.

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    The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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