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

The fire is just north of the Penn State Forest

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.

New Jersey Forest Fire Service enters their 84th year of improving forests with prescribed fire

prescribed burn US Air Force’s Warren Grove Bombing Range
A prescribed burn at the U.S. Air Force’s Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, NJ. Photo: Trevor Raynor

Michael Achey and Marie Cook of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service (NJFFS) wrote this article about their prescribed fire program, which is entering its 84th year in the state.


The NJFFS is the agency responsible for protecting life, property, and New Jersey’s natural resources from wildfire. One of the ways we accomplish our mission is by an aggressive hazardous fuel mitigation program, specifically using prescribed fire.

History and Purpose of Prescribed Fire in New Jersey
NJFFS has been using prescribed fire on state lands since 1936, primarily to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations. Other beneficial effects of these treatments include providing high quality wildlife habitat and resilience in forest health. While reducing the threat to public safety posed by hazardous fuels is always the primary mission, this year’s signing of the New Jersey Prescribed Burning Act has given fire management officers additional latitude for using prescribed fire as a tool to achieve several other ecological objectives. While prescribed burning takes place statewide across all ownerships, much of the activity is concentrated on state lands in fire-adapted Pine Barrens communities.

The state has proposed over 30,000 acres to be treated by prescribed burning this season, a seemingly ambitious goal having come off one of the wettest years current fire managers have ever experienced through the course of their careers. Prior to treatment, all proposed prescribed burn units are approved through a Departmental review process that considers natural resource, historical and ecological concerns, after which burn plans are prepared by local fire managers for each unit. At the time this article was written, towards the culmination of NJ’s prescribed burn season, approximately 15,000 acres of public and private land had been treated.

prescribed fire New Jersey
Students from the 2019 Prescribed Fire Exchange work on prescribed burns in New Jersey’s Pinelands region. Photo: Michael Achey
prescribed fire New Jersey
Students from the 2019 Prescribed Fire Exchange work on prescribed burns in New Jersey’s Pinelands region. Photo: Michael Achey

Education and Outreach
The 2019 burn season marks the second formalized annual Prescribed Fire Exchange, a program created to provide opportunities for students and practitioners outside NJFFS for training and exposure to prescribed fire techniques utilized in New Jersey. Students from Northern Arizona University, University of Idaho, and Utah State University have received training so far, as well as professional staff from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, New York’s Central Pine Barrens Commission, and the Montana Department of Natural Resources. NJFFS is extremely proud of this budding program which continues to receive praise from past and current participants. While our roots hold firm to tradition, we are continually seeking ways to improve our programs and expand the scope of their benefits. Anyone interested in participating in future exchanges should contact NJFFS state headquarters located in Trenton, NJ.

Research
Beginning in 1926, the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station’s program in the NJ Pinelands has served as a regional hotspot for research of fire and forest management practices.  Over time, the development of a landscape-scale approach of creating a mosaic with prescribed fire each year has resulted in fuel hazard reduction and promotion of forest health and regeneration.

Today, this program capitalizes on the constantly emerging breadth of new knowledge and technology including satellites and laser-based sensors, to drive research on aspects of fire that were once impossible to study.  With topics such as fire spread through ember showers, fire effects, physics-based modeling of fire spread, and technological approaches to assessing hazardous fuels at the wildland-urban interface, this research contributes to the evolution of universally applicable fire science knowledge. Most importantly, the work strives to meet a balance of risk and ecosystem service needs with growing populations and changing forest and climate conditions.

prescribed fire stats New Jersey
2019 NJ Prescribed Burning Statistics as of March 21, 2019; “Other” denotes government land not in state ownership.

Additional information about the Silas Little Experimental Forest and the New Jersey Forest Fire Service and their prescribed burning program.

Two New Jersey fire departments use social media to recruit and spread safety message

Above: A screenshot from the video shot produced by Carolyn Rizza about texting and driving.

At least two fire departments in New Jersey are using social media in their efforts to recruit volunteers and spread messages about safety.

The website NJ.com has an article about how the Amwell Valley Fire Company and the Township of Clinton are tapping the powers of Facebook and YouTube to interact with their customers.

This first video, about texting and driving, was made by 20-year old Carolyn Rizza, a volunteer firefighter with the Amwell Valley Fire Company as part of a scholarship contest.

The Township of Clinton Division of Fire produced the next video in an effort to recruit new members.

This is a good time to revisit something we posted on February 1, 2017. It is a description of the culture of firefighting in Chile, a country where almost all of the firefighters are volunteers. It was written by “scpen” who left it as a comment below one of the articles we wrote about the 747 SuperTanker assisting the Chilean firefighters.

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“The tradition of the volunteer fire fighters in Chile is a very old one. To become a volunteer firefighter there is a waiting list in every single town and city across Chile, and it often takes years to get an open slot, typically another member must sponsor the person applying. It is seen as more important and patriotic than volunteering to join the military. It is for life. Even old firefighters that are no longer able to fight fires, still show-up for training and other activities, or help with administration. Often until they die.

At the core, is a sort of belief that fighting fires and rescuing people is such an honor, and so important, that a paid, “professional” group, of fire fighters would not take it so seriously (correct or mistaken). It is not something that can be trusted to the vagaries of government ministers, budget cuts, and so on.

That said, the volunteer departments equipment is mostly provided by the government. Simply the firefighters receive donations in yearly fund raising drives, that they divided between them and is viewed as a thank you for their service through-out the year.

They do receive professional level training. Experts from the around the World are brought in to for training. Firefighters join specialized brigades such as dealing with chemical hazards, high-rise rescues, and so on.

This is not just a bunch of guys standing on the street corner they pick-up, and hand them a garden hose.”

New Jersey: prescribed fire at Delaware Water Gap

On April 6th, 2016, wildland firefighters from multiple agencies worked with personnel from the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to help reduce the number of invasive plants on 200 acres near Walpack Center, New Jersey. They expect the treatment will give native plant species the chance to repopulate and thrive.

Roundup of wildfire activity in the eastern United States

While most areas in the western United States, with the exception of parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, wait for their fuels and weather to dry out, many firefighters in the east have been busy lately. The Intelligence section at the National Interagency Fire Center is too busy this time of the year to issue a daily Situation Report, so we assembled information about a number of fires east of the Mississippi River.

Tennessee
A prescribed fire conducted by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) that got out of control in Blount County on Wednesday has burned 400 to 500 acres as of Thursday morning. TWRA officials said the wind picked up unexpectedly while they were treating a unit in the Foothills Wildlife Management area.

A fire in the Cherokee National Forest has burned 150 acres six miles north of Unicoi. Additional aircraft, dozers, engines, and firefighters have been ordered. (The tweet below is about this fire.)

North Carolina
Mike Martin’s brush pile he was burning behind his house Wednesday near Etowah escaped as winds blew flames onto his porch. He went to grab two five-gallon buckets of water, but by the time he returned it was too late. He tried to go into the house to retrieve his car keys, but the fire was too hot. Both the Ford SUV and the house were destroyed even though the fire department responded quickly from their station two miles away.

A fire in the Nature Conservancy’s Nags Head Woods Preserve blackened about 250 acres on the Outer Banks. It started on March 22 and spread for three days.

New Jersey
A wind-driven brush fire burned 86 acres in Port Republic Wednesday afternoon. With help from two water-dropping helicopters, about 30 firefighters stopped the spread.

Wildfire forced evacuations near Hammonton, New Jersey

(UPDATED at 8:25 a.m. EDT, May 8, 2015)

Radio transmissions from firefighters on the wildfire seven miles northeast of Hammonton, New Jersey early Friday morning indicate that the firelines are holding, preventing additional spread of the fire. At 5 a.m. there was a heavy fog in the area, which will act like a wet blanket on the fire.

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(UPDATED at 10:30 p.m. EDT, May 7, 2015)

Hammonton, New Jersey wildfire
The fire near Hammonton, New Jersey as seen from the cockpit of Air Tanker Charlie 1.

These two photos of the fire seven miles northeast of Hammonton, New Jersey were sent to us by Curt Nixholm, of Downstown Aero. They were shot at about 3:50 p.m. on May 7 from the cockpit of Charlie 1, their Air Tractor 602 air tanker on contract to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

Hammonton, New Jersey wildfire
The fire near Hammonton, New Jersey as seen from the cockpit of Air Tanker Charlie 1.

There is a report from New Jersey 101.5, at 9:50 p.m., that the fire has been contained.

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(Originally published at 5:45 p.m. EDT, May 7, 2015)

A large wildfire seven miles northeast of Hammonton, New Jersey forced evacuations at 2 p.m. EDT in the southern part of the state east of Route 206 between Stokes and Atsion Roads. The State Police closed Route 206 for several hours but expected to open it again around 6 p.m. EDT. The evacuations were lifted at about 5:15 p.m. EDT when extensive burnout operations stopped the spread on one side of the 710-acre fire.

Hammonton fire
Firefighters conduct burnout operations along roads to stop the spread of a fire northeast of Hammonton, New Jersey, May 7, 2015. Photo from Myfoxphilly.

The photo above clearly shows a burnout as a straight line following roads.

Hammonton fire map
The red square shows the approximate location of heat detected by a satellite at 3:27 p.m. EDT. The wildfire is on the east side of Route 206, 7 miles northeast of Hammonton, and 26 miles southeast of Philadelphia.