Fire in southern New Jersey expected to burn 2,100 acres

The Big Timber Fire had burned 250 acres at 6 p.m. Tuesday

map Big Timber Fire New Jersey
Map showing the general location of the Big Timber Fire in southern New Jersey.

Fire officials with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service expect the Big Timber Fire in the southern part of the state to burn about 2,100 acres by the time the fire is contained within planned control lines.

The fire is 31 miles northwest of Atlantic City and 13 miles northeast of Vineland.

The fire was detected Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. by personnel in two fire lookout towers. Their azimuth readings intersected near the Blue Anchor Fire Line in the Winslow Wildlife Management Area, Winslow Township in Camden County.

The Big Timber Fire is burning in heavy brush and timber and has jumped across the Egg Harbor River. At 6 p.m. Tuesday it had burned about 250 acres.

Big Timber Fire
Big Timber Fire, May 19, 2020. ABC channel 6.

Strong gusty winds are hindering containment efforts. The forecast is for east-northeast winds to continue through Tuesday night at 13 to 17 mph with the relative humidity in the 50s. On Wednesday the winds will be about the same as the RH dips into the low 40s in the afternoon with a high temperature of 59. Cloud cover Tuesday night and on Wednesday should be 85 to 90 percent.

Residents in Baltimore and possibly Washington, DC, 90 and 115 miles away respectively, might smell the smoke Tuesday night and Wednesday.

map Big Timber Fire New Jersey
Map showing the projected containment lines within which the New Jersey Forest Fire Service intends to control the Big Timber Fire in southern New Jersey. Map produced at 5 p.m. EDT May 19, 2020.

Split Ditch Fire burns hundreds of acres in southern New Jersey

The fire is expected to grow to 1,500 acres

Map Split Ditch Fire
Map of the Split Ditch Fire, April 9, 2020. New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

(Updated at 9:16 p.m. EDT April 9, 2020)

The Split Ditch Fire in southern New Jersey has burned approximately 250 acres 4 miles southwest of the Millville Executive Airport and 12 miles south of Vineland.

“Crews are making an indirect attack utilizing existing fuel breaks and county roads,” said Micheal Achey of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. “The fire is estimated to be 1,500 acres by the time of containment. Firing operations will continue until morning.”

The blaze has been pushed by winds out of the west-northwest gusting above 40 mph per hour with relative humidity in the high 20s and temperature in the high 50s.

Wind speed Thursday afternoon at Millville Municipal Airport
Wind speed Thursday afternoon at Millville Municipal Airport, NJ.

The Split Ditch Fire is being fought by 30 personnel on 10 Type 6 engines, 4 dozers, and one UH-1H helicopter operated by the state.

(UPDATE at 11:18 a.m. EDT April 10, 2020)

Special tribute to Smokey Bear by New Jersey Forest Fire Service

Smokey Bear video New Jersey
Screenshot from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service video below.

As part of the celebration of the 75th year of the Smokey Bear wildfire prevention campaign, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service produced this video tribute.

Smokey is reminiscing about old times until the video switches to present day halfway though when he is called out to a wildfire. The video is set to the song “Nostalgic” by the New Jersey based band A R I Z O N A.

The video showcases many notable locations throughout the state including Mt. Tammany, Storybook Land, and the Statue of Liberty.

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.

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 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.


“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.”