New Jersey Forest Fire Burns 15,000 Acres
MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ A wind-driven forest fire burned through a section of the pine woods of rain-starved southern New Jersey today after briefly threatening homes and forcing hundreds of evacuations.
The fire spread across more than 19,000 acres by 7:30 a.m., said Rosemarie Chisholm-Cohen, deputy director of Ocean County Emergency Services. No damage to homes and no injuries were reported.
The blaze began shortly after noon Tuesday in the state-owned Greenwood Forest Fish and Wildlife Management Area.
Wind blowing at more than 50 mph swept the flames through woods that have received about two inches less precipitation than normal this year.
About 600 people were evacuated as a precaution Tuesday but everyone was allowed to return home by midnight.
The wind calmed to about 10-15 mph this morning, and the fire was declared under control by 4 a.m. But the fire erupted again and was burning along Route 532 this morning, Chisolm-Cohen said.
``We hope to declare containment sometime this afternoon,″ she said.
A 10-mile stretch of the Garden State Parkway was closed for several hours Tuesday night so firefighters could set ``back fires″ to slow or stop the fire by burning the fuel in front of it.
Forest fires also burned today over more than 1,600 acres in central and western Virginia. About 60 people left their homes for emergency shelters.