New Jersey Experiences Rare Wildfire Reaching 12,000 Acres; Road Closures Reported

A wildfire is ongoing in southern New Jersey and has grown in size as of Monday evening, June 20.

The so-called Wharton State Forest fire has reached at least 12,000 acres, affecting several townships in the state, such as Hammonton, Mullica, Shamong, and Washington.

Local authorities are reportedly gaining momentum in containing the New Jersey wildfire.

However, fire weather conditions have been fueling the fire growth.

There were no reported fatalities or injuries, but the fire has led to some road closure across the state.

Wildland fires are relatively less common in the Garden State compared to fires in the drought-stricken western and southwestern regions of the United States.

While the exact cause of the blaze is yet to be determined, the persisting flame coincides with the heat dome blanketing the Central US and its surrounding areas.

New Jersey Wildfire

(Photo: Photo by Michael Bocchieri / Getty Images)

In a Twitter post by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service on Sunday evening, June 19, the fire at Wharton State Forest initially reached 2,100 acres and was only 20% contained at the time of the tweet, as firefighters continue to battle the blaze.

The post indicated that dry and breezy conditions have fueled the fire growth and fire spread in the said areas.

The state park service said Route 206 was closed from Chew Road to Stokes Road. Route 542 was also closed from Green Bank Road to Columbia Road.

In the latest update, the fire has significantly grown since then, but the contained area is 70% as of Monday, according to CNN.

The fire crews are “making substantial progress” with regard to containment, the US media agency said.

Also Read: Global Analysis Reveals Increased Mortality Rate Linked to Wildfire Pollution

Wharton State Forest Fire

The flame at Wharton State Forest has threatened 18 structures, according to officials, who added that protection is in place provided by fire departments as local volunteers from other areas such as the Atlantic, Burlington, and Ocean counties.

Various reports indicated that the cause of the wildfire was due to the forecasted heat wave moving toward the US East Coast.

However, arson or man-made causes are still possible.

The state park service also remarked Wharton State Forest is the “largest single tract of land in the New Jersey State Park System, as cited by CNN.

Fire Weather Conditions

US wildfires are common, especially during the summer season, but there are various climatic elements called fire weather conditions that are in favor of triggering or growing a fire.

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) states that the four critical fire weather elements affecting fire behavior are: drought, low relative humidity, strong surface wind, and unstable air.

Meanwhile, other elements also include soil moisture and hot temperatures.

New Jersey is situated in a region where fire weather is comparatively low compared to the mentioned other US regions.

In 1963, the worst New Jersey wildfire was sparked by humans in the Pine Barrens and it will be later known as “Black Saturday.”

The wildfire consisted of 37 fires, which burned almost 190,000 acres, leaving seven people dead and 400 buildings destroyed, according to nj.com.

Related Article: US Wildfires: Death Toll Reaches 15, West Coast Air Quality Ranks Worst in the World

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