NJDEP sets controlled fires to prevent future forest fires

Posted: Updated:
MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP -

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection set controlled fires Tuesday in an attempt to prevent future forest fires.

The controlled burn is taking place deep in the Pinelands off of Route 539 in Manchester Township.

“We are taking advantage of these cold temperatures and low humidity to get as much burn as possible before the peak of the spring fire season, which is coming up here,” said Scott Knauer with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

Knauer said that about every 30 years a large wildfire originating in the Pinelands threatens the nearby populace. He says that as more people build in the vulnerable regions, the more crews need to have controlled burns.

"The predominant wind in New Jersey comes out of the west and blows to the east,” said Knauer. “So we try and do strategic fuel breaks to break up the forest so it's not so dense and prevent large fires from the Pinelands to communities downwind."

The burn eliminates the brush, dried leaves, pine needles and other things that can enhance the spread of a wildfire. Knauer said that it takes about six months of planning and preparation before the fires are set.

Nearby residents should expect to see plumes of smoke from the fires for the rest of March.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service advises people to be extra cautious through mid-May when spring fire season winds down.

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