3,859-acre wildfire in Manchester Township, New Jersey is now 100% contained

Thursday, April 13, 2023
3,859-acre wildfire in Manchester Township is now 100% contained
Officials said the 3,859-acre forest fire in Manchester Township, Ocean County is now 100% contained.

MANCHESTER TWP., New Jersey (WPVI) -- Officials on Thursday morning said the 3,859-acre forest fire in Manchester Township, Ocean County is now 100% contained.

The massive fired burned federal, state and private property.

At one point, there were 20 structures threatened by the blaze, but they are no longer in danger.

A total of 170 homes were forced to briefly evacuate as crews stood by.

"They sat their trucks along the edge, they kept it controlled, making sure it didn't jump the road or anything," said Kathleen Kane, whose Lakehurst home sits adjacent to the woods along Division Street. "We have tons of soot all over the ground. You can see it's everywhere. It's in the house."

"All the sudden I heard banging at my door and they said, 'You got to get out right away,'" recalled Ron Castellano of Lakehurst.

Firefighters set a fire line along the edge of the woods as the wildfire got closer, burning up the vegetation closest to the houses to protect them. Helicopters also dumped water onto hot spots.

Dry, warm and windy conditions were challenging, but crews will keep working until the fire is out.

"Those pockets of unburned fuel inside the perimeter continue to burn and ignite, but our concern for escape outside of that area is very low at this point," said Chief Greg McLaughlin of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

No injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but officials stressed that 99% of wildfires are caused by humans.

Officials said Tuesday night was a high-risk scenario and many agencies worked together to save homes and other structures.

"This fire exhibited extreme fire behavior. We saw a wall of fire, 200-foot flames, raining fire embers. I don't mean to be dramatic, but this was a severe situation that these guys and gals managed to keep in a place to project lives and property," said John Cecil, assistant commissioner of state parks, forests and historic sites.

Chopper 6 flew overhead as crews worked to contain a 2,500-acre wildfire in Manchester Township, Ocean County on April 12, 2023.

All road closures were lifted Wednesday night.

The weather hasn't helped firefighters. AccuWeather says fire conditions continue with warm, dry and windy conditions.

The next chance for rain isn't until this weekend.

Chopper 6 was over the forest fire in Manchester Twp., New Jersey on April 11, 2023.