Spring Hill Fire spreads across 10,000 acres in New Jersey

The fire is just north of the Penn State Forest

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map Spring Hill Fire pine barrens New Jersey
The arrow on the map points to the Spring Hill Fire in New Jersey. Satellite image at 9:07 p.m. EDT March 30, 2019. Wildfire Today / NASA

(Updated at 3:04 p.m. EDT March 31, 2019)

The wildfire burning in New Jersey in the Penn State Forest in Burlington County near the Ocean County border has grown to about 10,000 acres, fire officials said at 2:45 p.m on Sunday. Firefighters have been conducting burnout operations out ahead of the fire to remove the fuel and slow down the blaze.

Route 72 is still closed.

(Updated at 1:25 a.m. EDT, March 31, 2019)

Officials in New Jersey said Sunday morning that the Spring Hill Fire in the Pinelands had grown to about 8,000 acres. Route 72 west of Route 539 in Barnegat remains closed while firefighters are working in the area.

(Updated at 8:53 a.m. EDT March 31, 2019)

A fire that started at 1:45 Saturday afternoon in the New Jersey Pinelands had burned approximately 5,000 acres by 10 p.m. Pushed by strong winds out of the south-southwest at 10 mph gusting up to 25 mph it ran to the north and northeast forcing authorities to close Route 72 west of Barnegat. The fire started in the Penn State Forest in Burlington County near the Ocean County border when the relative humidity was 33 percent.

Satellite imagery showed that the fire was still very active throughout the night into early Sunday morning, especially at 4:22 a.m. EST. Later, clouds moved in and obscured the view.

map Spring Hill Fire pine barrens New Jersey
The red and gray dots represent the location of the wildfire in New Jersey as seen from a satellite at 4:22 a.m. EDT March 31, 2019.

It started in an area in which there are few structures.

The weather forecast calls for a 60 to 70 percent chance of showers Saturday night and Sunday.

The video below was shot by the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office on March 30.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Capt. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

6 thoughts on “Spring Hill Fire spreads across 10,000 acres in New Jersey”

  1. All too often we assume destructive wildland fires are a western phenomena. And, unless the size of the fire is 100,000 acres, the incident hardly deserves a nod. accordingly, I am glad the Spring Hill Fire is being noted. I live just outside of Philadelphia and I can assure you that a 5,000 acre wildfire is a significant concern. And, you can count on more to come in the future. Allow me to explain.

    We have about 885 million acres of forests across our country, including the 138 million acres of urban forests. About one-half of these acres are in need of some type of restorative action. Simply put, America’s forests are declining in health and are becoming less resistant to disturbances [i.e., insect and disease outbreaks; fire]. As I often say, “aggressive forest management will ensure effective fire management.”

    Yet, when you look at the federal budgets, for example, funds for a wide-range of forest management activities are being constantly shifted away for the fire suppression effort. Unless this changes and leaders begin to recognize that a campaign in forest management [and yes, forests include more than just trees] will enable lives, property and communities to be better protected from wildfires, the horrific examples we see happening throughout the west over the past decade, especially, will become commonplace across our country.

    So, what can we do? First and foremost, speak up. Share your voice to those who “decide” about what is happening to America’s forested landscapes. For example, the public lands administered by the United States Forest Service are in terrible shape with over 80 million acres at high risk to destructive wildfires. Twenty five years ago, about 16 percent of the Forest Service budget went for fire activities. Now, it is well over 50 percent. Soon, the USDA Forest Service will be known as the USDA “Fire” Service. And, the gap that was created by shifting resources away from management actions has never been filled. I suspect the state forestry agencies have experienced a similar trend. Let me say again, “…forest management ensures effective fire management.” Now is the time. Let your voice be heard.

    I just got a glimpse of the 2020 “President’s Proposed Budget.” In spite of all the rhetoric about “forests need more management”, the proposal allows nothing to change. 2019 will probably be another bad fire season. Just like 2018 and most of the years since the National Fire Plan was developed in 2001. And, get this: an Executive Order [EO] was recently signed [December 18, 2018] “…promoting Active Management of America’s Forests, Rangelands, and other Federal Lands to Improve Conditions and Reduce Wildfire Risk.” With the 2019 budget that was passed and the 2020 being proposed, the words in the EO are simply wasted text. What an opportunity lost.

    Members of Congress — not just western Members — need to know what is happening. That is, America’s forested landscapes are not being managed so fires can become intense and less destructive. This coupled with the impacts of a changing climate are “recipes for disaster” [by the way, the same title of an old publication written by the New Jersey State Forester’s office].

    We talk a lot about “emergencies”, some real and some not so much. Well, in my view, the incredible destruction caused by wildfires resulting from lack of forestland management is THE conservation issue of our time. It does not have to be this way. Share your voice on this critical issue with those who “decide.”

    Very respectfully,

    1. Isn’t the President cutting the Fire Budget? There’s no money for rakes. You have to bring your own when you go to a fire.

      1. Exactly Brian. The budget was posted here recently. It contradicts what the Administration is said must be done, increase funding for fire mitigation, manage to and suppression.

        I hope Congress addresses this issue. As bad as this fire is in New Jersey, I’m thankful it has occurred showing the public and this administration, fires can happen everywhere, in every state nationwide without any loss of life and structures.


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