New Jersey forest fire grows to 11,000 acres as natural causes ruled out

New Jersey forest fires grow to 11,000 acres[11,000 ha]Natural causes have not been eliminated.

Warton County, New Jersey, has grown to 11,000 acres[50,000 sq m]and 50 percent of it is under control, according to the New Jersey Forest Service. Photo courtesy of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

June 20 (UPI) – Firefighters are battling a massive wildfire in the Warton State Forest, which covers more than 11,000 acres[11,000 ha]of land, the New Jersey Forest Fire Department said Monday.

Officials say 50 percent of the fires in the southern New Jersey pine area have been contained.

Staff continue “to Make progress in catching wildfires In the Wharton State Forest – Washington, Shamon, Hammonton and Mulica, New Jersey Forest Fire Service tweeted.

Fire officials estimate that as many as 15,000 hectares (up to 15,000 hectares) of land will be affected by the fire on Monday. It is the largest fire in the area since 2007.

Thick white smoke and flames can be seen for many miles and firefighters are dealing with dry and windy conditions. Investigators say the blaze broke out Sunday in a remote area near the Mulika River.

“We have rejected the natural causes and will continue to investigate the fire,” said Gregory McLaullin, chief of the New Jersey Forest Fire Department and state fire chief. “Once the cause is known, a lawsuit may be filed.”

Workers closed two roads with several campgrounds and boats. The premises of Paradise Lake Camp, where 18 buildings were gutted by fire, have also been evacuated. All hiking and mountain biking are currently closed to visitors. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters are urging people to remove their drones from the area. “There are no drones in the fire zones – we can’t fly!”

The forest service said it hoped the fire could be contained completely by Wednesday or rain.

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