The New Jersey Forest Fire Service is conducting numerous controlled burns throughout the Jersey Shore and neighboring areas Thursday.
The burns are occurring in the following locations: Wharton State Forest, Shamong (200-acres forest); Wharton State Forest, Washington (60-acres forest); Stafford Forge, Little Egg Harbor (12.0-acres grass); Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area, Lacey/Manchester (150-acres grass); Whiting Wildlife Management Area, Manchester (10- acres forest); Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area, Jackson (400-acres grass) Brendan Byrne State Forest, Woodland (400-acres forest); Pigeon Swamp, Jamesburg (20-acres forest); (Belleplain State Forest, Dennis (67-acres forest); Atlantic County Park, Hamilton (25-acres forest); Stockton University, Galloway (52-acres forest); and Glassboro Wildlife Management Area, Glassboro (50-acres grass).
Large columns of smoke will be visible, and smoke will likely travel toward the coast with the northwest breeze.
“Prescribed burning is part of a planned strategy that the state uses to reduce accumulations of undergrowth, fallen branches and downed trees that can act as tinder and increase the severity of wildfires, making them difficult to control,” said State Forester Lynn Fleming. “Prescribed burns help protect lives and property and, at the same time, improve the overall health of our forests.”
Prescribed fires are generally conducted during the winter months to minimize the amount of smoke produced, and when weather conditions tend to be safer for controlled fires, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
“Firefighter and public safety are our top priorities as we implement these burns,” says State Firewarden Bill Edwards. “Roads in areas where burns are taking place are clearly marked. Motorists are advised to observe the posted precautions and slow down.”
With sandy soil that drains rapidly, the New Jersey Pinelands region is highly susceptible to wildfires.
When in doubt about the source of the smoke or fire, call 9-1-1 or 877-WARN-DEP (877-927-6337), the NJDEP advises.