Hot, dry conditions mean big forest fire risk

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The hot temperatures combined with the dry conditions means we're at a high risk for a forest fire. (WPVI)

The hot temperatures combined with the dry conditions means we're at a high risk for a forest fire.

We've already seen a few wildfires burn hundreds of acres across New Jersey, including one on Monday night.

On Tuesday, crews from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service were still in Jackson Township, setting small backfires and mopping up.

A suspicious blaze blackened 25 acres near Reed Road inside the Colliers Mill Wildlife Management Area.

The fire was quickly contained, but as firefighters hosed down hotspots, they are warning that the next few days present an extreme fire danger.

"The temperatures have gone up now, the humidity has dropped, and the wind has picked up. It just really all contributes to the spread of fire," said Forest Fire Security Warden Deale Carey.

Forest fire service section warden Deale Carey says dry hot windy conditions are a recipe for fire.

"The fire starts spreading out, getting wider and faster, and then they start to run down a little too with the turf," Carey said.

That dry ground cover is literally fuel for the fire.

"It's composed of pine needles and leaves, and the soil is even dry enough right now that the soil is actually burning the organic material. So when the fire occurs on the surface it starts burning underground also," said Forest Fire Service Warden Trevor Raynor.

That makes it difficult for crews to knock the fire out.

The Forest Fire Service is currently staffing all of its 21 fire towers around the state.

From his perch 125 feet in the air, fire observer Bob Morse scans the treetops looking for signs of smoke and fire.

After 14 years at this, he can quickly locate the position of a blaze.

"I get my reading. I get another reading, drop the map and where two strings cross that's it. We can get them within a mile," Morse said.

Whether it's a small fire in Jackson or the fire earlier this month in Shamong that burned over 700 acres, fire trucks are rolling the minute smoke is spotted.

"We want to make sure everyone's careful. The word's out there. It is very dry conditions," Carey said.
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