Southern NJ forest fire is mostly contained; no injuries

Forest fires in southern New Jersey remained 85% by mid-Tuesday, and firefighters were confident they would not spread beyond the perimeter lines created.

The fire is believed to have been caused by an illegal forest fire in Wartton State Forest, said Greg McLawlin, New Jersey Forest Fire Chief.

He said the fire burned 13,500 of the 15,175 hectares of land around it.

No one was injured and none of the 18 threatening buildings were damaged.

The blaze broke out at about 10 a.m. Sunday and quickly spread to other parts of the county, including Burlington County and Mulica Township in Atlantic County.

“It was mainly a camp fire,” Maclawlin said. “We suspected that people were crossing the river and walking. But we have eliminated natural causes.

At least 50 people had to leave the camp, far from the river or on foot.

The fire was burning far away from the forest, making it difficult to access fire trucks due to the complexity of the roads in the park, which is inaccessible and many water wells.

Firefighters used 22 engines, a 325-gallon bucket and other equipment to fight the blaze, which is expected to continue for several days.

Local roads near the fire were opened on Tuesday morning.

The blaze destroyed half of the 40 historic buildings in the village of Batto, popular with pedestrians and canoes.

Fire trucks are parked near these buildings and some private buildings along the road.

Trails in the Wharton State Forest will remain closed for several days until any safety hazards are checked.


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