1. #1
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    Post NJ Wildfire Destroys 12,000 Acres

    NJ Wildfire Destroys 12,000 Acres 50 Homes Damaged or Destroyed
    By CHRIS NEWMARKER, Associated Press Writer
    May 15, 2007 - A wildfire along the border of Ocean and Burlington counties in southern New Jersey burned thousands of acres of brush and pine forest Tuesday, closing several highways, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate and damaging several homes.


    As of 10 p.m. firefighters had about 15 percent of a wildfire along the border of Ocean and Burlington counties under control.

    One local fire chief called it the fastest moving fire in a decade.

    The fire has consumed at least 12,000 acres, about 19 square miles, according to Jim Petrini, assistant state fire warden with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

    About 2,500 homes in area communities had been evacuated and several mobile homes were damaged, but there were no reports of deaths or injuries, Petrini said.

    Routes 539 and 72 were closed by the fire, which started about 2:15 p.m. on the Warren Grove Gunnery Range, a 9,400-acre expanse of sand and scrub pine used for aerial bombing practice by Air National Guard units.

    Lt. Col. James Garcia, a spokesman for the New Jersey Air National Guard, said it was believed a flare dropped from one its F-16s may have started the blaze.

    Dry conditions and winds gusting to 30 mph contributed to the rapid spread of the blaze.

    At least six homes in a mobile home park in Barnegat Township were damaged, with firefighters trying to protect the remaining homes, said Bert Plante, a division fire warden for the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

    Neighborhoods in both Barnegat and Stafford townships were being evacuated, according to the Ocean County emergency management office.

    Meanwhile, Plante said fire trucks were being moved into front yards of homes in the village of Warren Grove, where homes were also threatened.

    Some residents used garden hoses to protect their property as the fire approached.

    Standing on a Warren Grove street as he held a police scanner to keep his neighbors updated, Jeff Ceeckler said he'd seen many fires in the area over the years, but this was one of the larger ones.

    "It's definitely scary. You could wipe out a whole neighborhood," Ceeckler told the Asbury Park Press of Neptune.

    Firefighters set up a fire line along Route 72, the main road leading to the Long Beach Island seashore resort area, as part of the effort to contain the blaze.

    "I would hope we would have fire lines (all) around it by dawn," Plante said.

    Hundreds of state and local firefighters were trying to contain the blaze. Seven airplanes and helicopters were being used to drop water on the fire, Petrini said.

    Along the nearby Garden State Parkway, northbound and southbound ramps on Exit 63, as well as the southbound ramp for Exit 67, had been closed to aid with possible evacuation efforts, said Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which runs the Parkway.

    The area burning was about 25 miles north of Atlantic City, at the edge of the 1.1 million-acre Pinelands national preserve, a sparsely populated area of pine forest.

    (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press and Action News. All Rights Reserved
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    this sucks. i was at the firehouse and was going to go to this, but because im only a junior they wouldnt let me. i can't wait til next year when im through FF1 and can go to these kinds of calls.

    i was listening to it last night on my scanner, its pretty big. my companys still down there as of 8am this morning, and they left at 5 last night.

    anyone know how much is still burning now?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Asbury Park Press
    About 30 percent of the forest fire burning in Ocean and Burlington counties is now
    contained, state police said.

    All lanes of Route 72 were re-opened by 7:30 this morning and all of the Garden State Parkway ramps have also been re-opened, state police said.

    But Route 539 remains closed from Stafford Forge Road up to Route 72 because of the forest fire that has burned thousands of acres.

    Three trailer homes at Pinewood Estates in Barnegat and four at Brighton at Barnegat were destroyed by the forest fire that burned thousands of acres in Ocean and Burlington counties, said Bert Plante, a division fire warden with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

    About 50 homes sustained some damage at Brighton at Barnaget, including some that had smoke damage. There is also damage to sheds and vehicles in those neighborhoods.

    Four out of the 275 homes at the Brighton at Barnegat trailer park were lost as the blaze swept through the complex between 5 and 6 pm, said Rick Corde, manager of the development.

    "We went door to door notifying everyone. We sent them to (Pinewood Estates), and from there they evacated to the school," Corde said.

    All four homes were along Brighton Boulevard on the southern side of the development, he said,

    In front of the burned trailer this morning were piles of burnt insulation, melted deck chairs and broken glass. Behind blocked doorways were charred personal belongings.

    The ground at complex was surrounded by black and gray ash, with some small fires still smouldering. Trees were blackened with brittle branches brittle, and most of the development's wooded buffer had been laid waste by the fire.

    Casey Court resident Butch Shmil, 67, tried to return to his home to get his wife
    Pauline's heart medication, but he was turned away at the entrance. He was assured by officials that his double wide was safe.

    " I got to go get it, even if I have to go back to the druggist. She needs the
    medication," Shmil said.

    Three nursing homes on the south side of Route 72 in Manahawkin also remained evacuated this morning, state police said.

    Some 126 patients at the Southern Ocean Nursing and Rehab Center, 91 patients from the Manahawkin Convalescent Center, and a little more than 80 patients at the Summerville Assisted Living at Stafford were relocated to other assisted living facilities or nursing homes.

    The fire began Tuesday afternoon and continued to burn this morning. It forced the evacuation of about 2,500 homes Tuesday. Roughly 475 residents went to shelters set up by the Red Cross in Barnegat and Stafford.

    This morning, the Brackman Middle School in Barnegat was closing its shelter and 35 residents who were staying there will be sent to the shelter at Southern Regional High School in Stafford.

    Transportation will be provided by Barnegat Township.

    Controlled burns on Route 72 and the Garden State Parkway worked well and firefighters also got some relief Tuesday night when winds died down a bit, said Willie Cirone, assistant public information officer for the NJ State Forest Fire Service.

    "This fire will not be out until Mother Nature puts it out," said Maris Gabliks, state
    forest fire warden, at a briefing this morning. Heavy rain showers are predicted for this afternoon.

    The Garden State Parkway remains open, but State Police officials said if smoke from the fire cuts down visibility, the roadway will be shut. Route 72 reopened around 8 a.m. and the Garden State Parkway exit 63 also reopened at the same time.

    State and local police are still keeping a tight control on road access along routes 72 and 539, with an eye toward even possibly closing the Garden State Parkway later today if smoke comditions make it unsafe.

    "The fire is still awful active to the north," said state assistant fire warden Bert
    Plante. Winds up to 20 mph are forecast today and firefighters are hoping a forecast of possible rain late today will pan out.

    Bay Avenue in Barnegat was closed last night, but now has reopened. Exit 67 is open.

    About two-third of the evacuees sheltered at Southern Regional High School are headed home, said Bill Beatty, administrator of client services with the American Red Cross.

    That announcement was made around 7:15 a.m. today to those lodged in the school's cafeteria.

    The Red Cross has breakfast arriving from an Edison caterer for those choosing to stay at the school's shelter, where there are emergency crews and volunteers from as far away as Brooklyn and Trenton.

    A second shift of Red Cross workers is taking over this morning for those who first arrived on scene at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

    Beatty, who last operated a shelter in Bound Brook during flooding last month, said this is a larger operation, but the Red Cross has been operating emergency shelters for over 100 years and handled Tuesday night's evacuations with no problem.

    "Shelter life isn't the greatest, but it's a safe, secure and sanitary place to stay," he
    said.

    Gabliks said the priority for the firefighters today will be to control the perimeter of
    the fire by creating fire breaks and doing back burns.

    There were a few minor power outages reported overnight, likely caused by utility poles that caught fire.

    It was unclear this morning if any more homes had been damaged, but a state forest fire helicopter would be flying this morning to survey the damage, said Cirone.

    Cirone said firefighting crews were being rotated in to replace the crews that have been working since Tuesday at the fire that is burning in Stafford, Bass River, Little Egg Harbor, Eagleswood and Barnegat.

    There were just over 100 firefighters on the scene this morning.

    Drivers may see smoke on the Garden State Parkway southbound from exit 63 in Manahawkin down to the Stafford Forge Road overpass in Eagleswood.

    There is also some fire smoldering on the side of the road, but it is from a backfire, set on purpose, to reduce the danger of the fire doubling back.

    Residents of the Fawn Lakes, Atlantic Hills, and Ocean Breeze age-restricted developments can return to their homes.

    Township-based nursing and convalescent homes, including Summerville at Stafford, Manahawkin Convalescent Center, and Southern Ocean Center Genesis ElderCare, will remain evacuated until at least 5 p.m. Residents are being relocated from Southern Regional High School to other nursing homes in the Ocean and Atlantic county area.


    just another update. 30% under control, 18,000 acres burned.

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    My Dad was there from 6PM yesterday to about 4:30AM this morning. I haven't had the chance to ask him about it since he's been sleeping since he got home this morning. Normally I would go with him, but because of the intensity, I sat this one out.
    Janvier Volunteer Fire Company
    Station 43-2
    ~~~
    New Jersey Forest Fire Service
    South Jersey
    Division C Section 9
    C25

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    Default Last i heard

    last i heard close to 20,000 acres have burned and 20 square miles are ablaze right now!

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    @fortythreetwo: where's your dad and you from? what company?

    yea this things getting out of control again. they're looking to evacuate more of the area down there.

    my company's starting to switch crews from yesterday at 445 when they were dispatched to go help. they were saying how it jumped the parkway, which means a hell of a lot more houses are in danger.
    not good.

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    Default jumped the parkway!

    ive heard its pretty damn close to the parkway but it hasnt jumped yet.. but if it does holy S*** do we have a problem! plus we have the winds from the storms entering our area tonight, maybe the rain will help us out a little

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    Quote Originally Posted by st42stephenAFT View Post
    @fortythreetwo: where's your dad and you from? what company?
    Well, we're actually pretty far from the fire itself. I was actually kind of surprised when he got the call to go. We live down here in Janvier (Franklinville), Gloucester County. We've got C25 (currently in the shop due to transmission problems) with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, but last night he went with C9. Not too sure of who else that went with them.

    We're also members at Janvier Vol. Fire Company. We had some tankers from around our area head up to the fire last night too, but ours didn't go.
    Janvier Volunteer Fire Company
    Station 43-2
    ~~~
    New Jersey Forest Fire Service
    South Jersey
    Division C Section 9
    C25

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    that's cool. i'm from northern most ocean county, point pleasant beach. we border monmouth. and we're stations 42 and 43, and you're 43-2. i found that interesting.

    but we got called in yesterday when they activated all of ocean county. pretty intense. last of our guys got home at 6:30 tonight.

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    Default Warren Grove

    Thanks to the Div C guys for helping us out with the large spot fire north of Rt 72. I thought it was going to be gone.

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    Lets all hope they get this under control, and bring everybody home and no firefighters get injured!

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    Section B10 has some pictures up on their site if anyone wants to check them out, their site is www.sectionb10.org

    This one is of my Dad and his crew. The 2 guys on the truck are Quincy and my Dad, and I'm pretty sure that the other guy standing outside the truck is Billy, the owner of C9.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Janvier Volunteer Fire Company
    Station 43-2
    ~~~
    New Jersey Forest Fire Service
    South Jersey
    Division C Section 9
    C25

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    Default Warren grove

    I took that photo. I was on B37. Car 55 was behind us. We worked a large spot fire that we thought we were going to lose. A few bucket drops, a plane drop and Div C (C9)came around the other flank with two other power wagons. We were able to knock it down. The guy standing outside of the truck is from my crew who is operating B37.
    (Car 55 is a 4x4 pick-up with a slip-on).
    Last edited by Deputy10D9; 05-18-2007 at 10:42 PM. Reason: add

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    I saw this fire from the air on Monday morning I think. I was flying south and I could see a huge amount of smoke about 50 miles to my west that was obviously a forest fire. I wanted to fly over to that area and check it out but I figured considering the size, there would be enough aircraft in the area.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    nmfire, I guess you were flying off the coast. Winds were SW so the column was going NE.

    We had a total of (7) aircraft working this fire. Not all at the same time.
    (2) Hueys w/buckets (NJFFS)
    (1) Bell Jet Ranger (NJFFS) Command Observation
    (1) Agcat (NJFFS) SEAT
    (1) Dromedier (NJFFS) SEAT
    (2) Black Hawks w/buckets (Military)

    Official acreage is now at 17,270
    (5) Homes destroyed
    (13) Homes damaged
    now at 90% containment as of 05/19/07
    Last edited by Deputy10D9; 05-20-2007 at 01:32 AM. Reason: acres

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    Glad to hear they're getting the fire contained!

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    yea, they're getting that under control which is great. glad to see it's not horribly out of control anymore. they did a good job.

    except my scanner just went off for a heavy smoke condition in Stafford Township coming from the fire. they're still running massive amounts of calls for things related to the fire.

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    We're still rotating crews in. Unless there is a decent rainfall, this won't be declared out for days or even weeks. I'll be in there tomorrow morning again with B37.

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    Default Warren Grove Fire

    As of 4:30 pm today 05/21/07, IC placed this fire at 100% containment, 90% under control.

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