Crews battle wildfire in Little Egg Harbor Township, NJ

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Forest fire consumes hundreds of acres in southern NJ
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Officials said the fire consumed 617 acres of land that splits between Ocean and Burlington counties.

LITTLE EGG HARBOR TWP., New Jersey (WPVI) -- A wildfire that was burning in Little Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey was 75% contained as of 11 p.m. Monday, authorities said.

The fire was first spotted around 4 p.m. Sunday.

Officials said the fire consumed 617 acres of land that splits between Ocean and Burlington counties. Fire officials estimated about 900 acres on Sunday night, but were able to reassess Monday morning.

Some area roadways are closed due to heavy smoke and other related issues, but Route 9, one of the state's most heavily traveled north-south routes near the coast, was open again on Monday.

Officials report about 70 firefighters with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service from the central and southern parts of the state battled to get the fire under control. About 150 structural firefighters from 39 municipal fire departments worked to protect the surrounding homes.

About 100 homes had been threatened by the fire, which broke out Sunday afternoon, but by Monday evening, all structures were out of danger.

Officials said no one was injured in the fire and no homes have been damaged.

Some crews will remain overnight to continue to put out hotspots.

Rob Gill, the New Jersey forest fire warden with the New Jersey forest fire service, said this fire is occurring at the backend of fire season.

"It varies depending on the piece of ground where a fire can happen," he said. "It'll vary from a quarter acre to a larger fire like this one. It all depends on the ground, fuel type, terrain. There are several factors that go into what determines the size of a fire."

Firefighters have begun conducting what they call "burnout operations," where they set smaller, controlled fires in hopes of protecting homes along Stage Road and the Offshore Manor Development along Route 9 in Little Egg Harbor.

"Which is the process where we eliminate the forest fuel on the ground from a secured area. In this situation, it's a hard top road all the way around the fire," Gill said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.