Risk of wildfires is high in New Jersey

Wildfire danger usually remains high until around Memorial Day.

Woodlands fire (NJ Forest Fire Service)

Woodlands fire (NJ Forest Fire Service)

So far this year there have been 336 wildfires in New Jersey, and the spring fire season isn’t over yet.

The risk of woodlands fires is high now because the hot weather and low humidity causes combustible material on the forest floor to dry out quickly, according to State Fire Warden Gregory McLaughlin. “People say it rained yesterday, how can it be a fire day? It’s because the soil in the Pinelands particularly is sandy and doesn’t hold much moisture and because the deciduous trees have not leafed out fully and they’re not providing shade yet,” said McLaughlin.

The wildfire danger usually remains high until around Memorial Day he added.

Most fires, 98 percent, are caused by humans said McLaughlin.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

He says people might not realize ashes or coals from their barbecue grills are still hot.

“I’ve seen cases where they dumped them over their fence into the woods behind their house and overnight that dries out the leaves and catches the leaf litter and needles on fire and their wooden fence and so on and so forth,” he said.

If you live near a wooded area, he says taking some simple precautions can help reduce the risk of fire damage.

“Clean up dead leaves around your house. Clean out your gutters of pine needles. Cut dead branches off the trees. Keep your plants watered and healthy,” he said.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal