Wharton wildfire half contained; smoke traveling through NJ

     The Wharton State Forest wildfire as seen from the Apple Pie Hill tower in South Jersey late Sunday afternoon. (Photo: Jersey Shore Hurricane News contributor Samantha Brumbaugh via Chris Santaspirt)

    The Wharton State Forest wildfire as seen from the Apple Pie Hill tower in South Jersey late Sunday afternoon. (Photo: Jersey Shore Hurricane News contributor Samantha Brumbaugh via Chris Santaspirt)

    A wildfire that broke out late Sunday afternoon in Wharton State Forest is burning 1,500 acres and half contained Monday mid-morning, according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

    The conflagration is impacting a “very remote area” of the forest, said Larry Hajna, a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection spokesman.

    The blaze is north of Wharton’s Batsto Village, but there’s no threat to buildings, Hajna said.

    “[The crews] will contain it and let it burn,” he said, adding that firefighters will create fire lines using bulldozers and other methods.

    Aircraft water drops have been ongoing since late Sunday afternoon, according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. 

    Smoke from the fire continues to drift over New Jersey and into New York City, Jersey Shore Hurricane News contributors have been reporting since late Sunday night. 

    A “cap” in the atmosphere is preventing the smoke from moving upward and dispersing, trapping it near the surface, Rutgers University’s WeatherWatcher reported. 

    Rain arriving Monday afternoon “should contain the fire and prevent any further damage,” a posting on a NJ DEP Facebook page said.

    Up to an inch of rain is likely by Tuesday morning, according to WeatherWorks, a forecasting company based in Hackettstown, NJ.

    Officials have not yet released information on what sparked the fire. 

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