Conditions in NJ ripe for brush fires

TRENTON, N.J. - September 8, 2010

A red flag warning was in effect Wednesday for the central and southern parts of the Garden State.

The National Weather Service says it hasn't rained in almost two weeks. Even Hurricane Earl was a bust, bringing no measurable rain to the tri-state area.

Low humidity and high winds also add to the risk of fire.

"We're so dry now we have all of our units out on patrol. That means we have firefighters in our trucks to be ready to respond as soon as the call goes out," said NJ Fire Warden Bert Plante.

More than 6,000 acres have burned in New Jersey forests, which is 5,000 more than last year.

"Conditions are very conducive for large fires. Any fire that starts is going to spread very rapidly and is going to be hard to put out. It runs a very high risk of becoming one of our major forest fires," said Plante.

Sod farm owner Sam Alloway of Vincentown in Burlington County says the low humidity and wind suck the moisture out of plants.

"We grow grass, and the conditions this year have been terrible because of droughts. We irrigate, but we can't irrigate enough to keep the grass alive," Alloway said.

At around 7:00 p.m. Gloucester County firefighters were called to first douse, then hose down hot spots, at brush fires along route 55.

Fire crews hosed down at least three sections of scorched brush in the median of the highway.

There is no word on how the fires began.

Everyone is being asked to be extra careful - a discarded cigarette or an ember from a charcoal grill could provide the spark needed for a major brush fire.

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