Thursday, April 24, 2014

Update on "Railroad Fire" in Downe Twsp, NJ

I wrote here about the 1,500 acre wildfire burning in the Edward G. Bevan Wildlife Management Area in Downe Township, Cumberland County New Jersey. To the best of my knowledge, this fire -- The Railroad Fire -- remains at 1,500 acres. I am hearing conflicting reports about how much of the wildfire is contained. So, for now I will stick with the Railroad Fire being at 55 percent containment.

Updated at 11:21 PM EDT on April 24th According to my friends at the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Website, the Railroad Fire is now at 85 percent containment. Acreage burned, including burn out operations, remains at about 1,500 acres.

Just in - Continental wildfire in Berkely Twsp (Ocean County) NJ

I got home from a couple of errands to get news of another major wildfire in New Jersey, this one in Berkeley Township (Ocean County) NJ (Section B7). This fire has been named the Continental Fire. According to my friends from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Section B10 website, the fire has burned about 50 acres as of 12:30 PM and evacuations are in place. I understand that the wildfire started around noon today. Firefighters on the ground are doing structure protection.

MyFoxNY is reporting about the evacuations affecting several homes. In addition, they report that
Beachwood Intermediate South School was closed just after 12:30 p.m. Parents were told not to report to the school. The Ocean County Sheriff's Dept. said that all children were going to be safely evacuated to another location (report from MyFox NY)
The Asbury Park Press has a short article about the fire. I will be posting updates as I hear them in this thread. I am monitoring the Division B scanner feed from Broadcastify. I just now heard from my friends at Downstown Aero, the tell me that the two Air Tractors (Bravo 1 and Charlie 1) are working the Continental Fire. If I am understanding the scanner feed correctly, Delta 6 (Huey Helicopter with bucket) is also working the fire.

For those of you who are wondering about the fire that is still currently burning in Downe Township (Cumberland County) NJ, my friends at Downstown Aero tell me that there were a couple of flair ups that the trucks on the ground handled. I have no updates yet about the size or containment status of this fire.

I have already made a couple of revisions to this article as information was coming in as I was writing this. I will update this article later today as I get new information.

Update April 24, 2014 at 3 PM EDT

Fire is reported at about 200 to 300 acres as I write this. Structure protection ongoing along with air support. I am just listened some livestream from ABC6 News in Philadelphia, reporting no injuries and no residences destroyed. One shed may have been destroyed. There are about 200 firefighters working the fire. My friends from Downstown Aero tell me that Alpha3 is ready and available to support wildfires in Division A (northern NJ), and that the turbo-cat is on standby for other wildfire activity in Division B (central NJ) and C (southern NJ).

Some News Reports:

Update April 24, 2014 at 4:53 PM EDT

As I understand it the Centennial Fire is burning in Berkeley and Beachwood Townships. There is still no containment and the acreage burned remains at about 300 acres.

I have been watching a 24 hour news channel, News12NJ (may not be freely available), but the News12NJ Facebook page is freely available. I heard a News12NJ report on cable that the Beachwood Intermediate South School was evacuated because the school is being used as a staging area. If you can access this link, the News12NJ coverage on the Continental Fire may be found here (may not be freely available, my apologies if the link doesn't work. There is good freely available media coverage on the links that I have provided earlier today, so don't be afraid to use them

My friends on the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Section B10 website are reporting (at 3:12 PM EDT) about a wildfire (size unknown) in Toms River NJ (also NJFFS Section B10) that involved a structure. An airtanker made at least one drop. One of the reasons I mention this particular fire is because I heard about it when I was listening to the online scanner feed from Division B earlier this afternoon. I am sure that I'll hear an update about this particular fire sooner or later, and I'll provide an update when I do.

Update April 24, 2014 at 7:00 PM EDT

My friends at the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Section B10 website are reporting that the Continental Fire (Berkeley and Beachwood Townships in Ocean County, New Jersey) has burned 307 acres and is 30 percent contained. They also are reporting that the fire in Toms River is now contained at three acres. The Toms River fire burned in marsh land, damaging one house and two sheds.

Here are some updated News Reports
ABC7 News NYC with video (4:59 PM EDT)
ABCNews6 Philadelphia with video (6 PM EDT)

I am only writing the fires that I know about. I suspect that there are other smaller wildfires that also burned today that I do not know about.

Thank-you firefighters in the air and on the ground for all you have done to keep us safe the past couple of days. And I know that there were wildfires elsewhere in the mid-atlantic, e.g. Upper Mt. Bethel PA to name one that I heard about in my wonderings. I'll try to write about some of those fires in a day or so.

Update April 24, 2014 at 9:55 PM EDT

I checked some of the media outlets that I referenced above. Based on what I have read and heard in their video updates, the Continental Fire remains at about 300 acres and is 30 percent contained. It sounds like evacuations were still in place earlier this evening and I don't know if evacuations are still in place. Thankfully, no one has been injured.

Update April 24, 2014 at 11:25 PM EDT

According to my friends at the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Section B10 website, the Continental Fire is now at 100 percent containment with crews continuing to work to strengthen containment lines. Acreage burned remains at 307 acres.

Major wildfire in Downe Twp (Cumberland County) NJ partially contained

As I write this, the latest update that I have from my friends at the New Jersey State Forest Fire Service Section B10 webpage (April 24th at 9:30 AM EDT) is that the fire is now at 1,500 acres with 55% containment, the increase in size may be due to back burning operations. I have some updated media links for you:

ABC News6 in Philadelphia (with video and photo gallery)
South Jersey Times (with photo gallery)
Atlantic City Press

I'll try to be back later on today with an update on this fire. In the meantime, we continue with Red Flag Warnings in all of New Jersey and surrounding areas for today (April 24th) from 11 AM to 8 PM.

Recall that I posted some aerial photos of the fire last night taken from Charlie2. Here are two more photos that I got this morning from my friends at Downstown Aero, also taken from Charlie2 yesterday. Photos by Edward Carter Jr.

Edited 12:55 PM on April 24th: Note I had mistakenly attributed these photos as being taken from Charlie3. Thanks to my friends from Downstown Aero for the correction, telling me that the photos were taken from Charlie2.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More on wildfire burning in Downe Twnshp (Cumberland County) NJ

My friends at Downstown Aero told me that Charlie2 (Turbo Cat) flew 6.3 hours today, all or most of it dropping on the 225 acre wildfire in Downe Township (Cumberland County) NJ today. According to the latest report on the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Section B10 website The fire may be 500 acres or more before it is contained, the fire is not contained. See this report from CBS in Philadelphia. The photos here are taken from Charlie2 and posted with the permission of her pilot, Edward Carter Jr.

Red Flag warnings for NJ and environs, and NJ wildfire activity for April 23rd

Red Flag Warning
I knew yesterday that there could be Red Flag warnings today in New Jersey, and I was correct. The National Weather Service in Mt. Holly did issue a Red Flag Warning
for their forecast area (most of New JerseyJ, Deleware, portions of Maryland, and southeastern Pennsylvania). There are also Red Flag Warnings into the remaining portions of Maryland, New Jersey, portions of NY (including NYC and Long Island) as well as portions of Virginia and West Virginia. I have my hands full, so to speak following some scanner feed from the NJ Forest Fire Service (Div. B - Central NJ and some channels from Div. A and Div. C - southern NJ. The National Weather Service at Mt. Holly NJ has issued a fire weather watch for Thursday, April 24. To read more about today's Red Flag Warning and tomorrow's fire weather watch, read this article from the Hunterdon Democrat (article written before Red Flag Warnings were raised for northeastern New Jersey and adjoining areas of New York), but you'll get the idea. I'm not posting any links from the National Weather Service because the links expire or are revised as conditions warrant. But if you look at the right side of this page under New Jersey Forest Fire Service, there should be current information and links.

Northern and Central New Jersey
Earlier this morning and again later this afternoon, I was listening to the Div. B scanner feed from broadcastify. As I was listening, I heard mention of at least a couple of  wildfires in Div. B (central New Jersey), and possibly a wildfire in Division A (northern New Jersey) including references to Bravo 1 working two fires, possibly more. When I scanned the local media outlets about an hour ago, I saw no mention of the wildfires that I heard about on the scanner feed. If for example, these wildfires were contained at a small size, they may not warrant media attention. Of course, I'll keep my eyes open, and if I see any media reports of wildfires in northern and central New Jersey, I'll post them later.

Wildfire in southern NJ
About an hour ago, I was scanning several media outlets when I saw an article on the Press of Atlantic City reporting on a wildfire in Downe Township, NJ reporting that the fire began about 3 PM, has burned about 225 acres so far and it is burning in an area with no nearby residential areas. I then went to  the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Section B10 website to see if they were reporting on any wildfire activity and saw reference to this same fire in Downe Township, going on to say that two aircraft are working the fire SEAT Charlie 2 (Air Tractor 602) and the Huey Helicopter  (with bucket), Delta 6.

For more information on the fire in Downe Twshp and a discussion of today's Red Flag Warning read this report from ABC6 news in Philadelphia. There is also a report on the fire from the South Jersey Times.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wildfire in Vernon Twnsp (Sussex County) NJ

Thanks to my friends at the NJ Forest Fire Service Section B10 website for bringing a wildfire in Vernon Township, NJ to my attention. The fire started near Wawayanda State Park on a steep ridge, with one or two New Jersey Forest Fire Service Helicopters with buckets working the fire. Approximately 75 to 100 acres have burned. No homes are threatened. The fire started on Monday evening, April 20 at about 6:00 PM. In an article dated today, April 22 at 5:51 PM, The NJ Herald is reporting that the fire is contained.

Video of NJ Forest Fire Service Helicopter dropping water on wildfire in Vernon Township, NJ
New Jersey Herald
direct link to video

Video of NJ Forest Fire Service Helicopter and bucket dipping from Lake in support of wildfire in Vernon Township, NJ
New Jersey Herald
direct link to video

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Wildfire Season continues in NJ - Easter update

The current fire danger reported by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service (which may change by the time you read this) is rated as high in northern and souther New Jersey and extreme in central New Jersey. The current fire danger may be found here. We haven't had any rain  in my part of New Jersey since last Tuesday and are due from some more rain late tomorrow night into early Wednesday.

As I write this, I am listening to online scanner feed from NJ Forest Fire Service Division B (go broadcastify link here which I understand sometimes picks up feed for Division A (where I live). I was listening to this same scanner feed earlier today (in the morning). What I can say is that the scanner traffic that I am hearing suggests that there has been some wildfire activity in central and northern New Jersey. Moreover, SEATs may have worked a couple of these fires. With one exception that I'll write about in a bit, I do not know the size or the exact location of these wildfires. Just hearing about a three-quarter acre fire somewhere in Division B (central Jersey) that is close to being contained and is in mop-up.

Just a little while ago I heard a report that a 3 acre fire somewhere in Division B (Central Jersey) was under control, that Bravo 1 (Air Tractor 602) made one drop. There may have been other fires. I am always happy to hear of one of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service SEATs working a smaller fire that is now under control. One drop on a three-acre wild fire can make all the difference in helping to keep the fire to a small size, making the job of the firefighters on the ground a little easier.

There were some wildfires in northern New Jersey that got the attention of local media over this past weekend. One was a fire of unknown size that burned in Jefferson NJ on the Newark Watershed Property, see tis article from the NJHerald on April 18th wildfire on Newark Watershed Property.

Also on Saturday the 18th, several brush fires were ignited along some railroad tracks in Warren County, perhaps ignited by some brush that caught under a special Easter Bunny excursion train. The train was held up for a couple of hours while wildland firefighters, a single-engine airtanker and a helicopter with a bucket fought these fires. For more on these fires:
  • Lehigh Valley Live on the brush fires along the railroad tracks in Warren County, and a later update on these brush fires may be found here.
  • WFMZ 69 News in Allentown PA reported on the brush fires along the railroad tracks in Warren County, New Jersey (Warren county adjoins Pennsylvania) reported on these fires here with a nice photo montage.
My friends from Downstown did tell me this morning that the SEAT based at Andover/Aeroflex, Alpha 3, flew for three hours on Saturday, confirming the reports of tanker activity in the media accounts.

I end with this short clip of one of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Helos with a bucket (it may be Delta 6, but I'm not sure) filling her bucket on Saturday, April 18. I don't know the exact location where this was shot, but I am pretty certain that is somewhere in northern New Jersey.

direct link to video on LiveLeak

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fire in the Pine Barrens -- April 21, 1963 -- 51 years later

I believe that I first heard about Black Saturday in the Pine Barrens --  April 21, 1963 when 183,000 acres in the New Jersey Pine Barrens burned -- when I read John McPhee's book The Pine Barrens (1967).  John McPhee writes:

On April 20, 1963, the day of the forest fire in the recorded history of the Pine Barrens, the burning index shot past two hundred into interminable beyond, It was not a particularly hot day, but the vegetation was still in the cured staff, winds war blowing at about fifty miles an hour, and there was a drought. Once a fire got started, there was not much chance that it could be controlled. Actually, twelve non-continguous major fires started on that day. … The fire was so hot that it caused the surfaces of macadam roads to form bubbles. Overhead, white piles of smoke went up hundreds of feed, and against this white background, now and again, appeared black twister os smoke from pitch. Multiple airdrops were made but did not significantly help (116-7).

In his book The Pine Barrens John McPhee has a chapter on fire in the Pine Barrens. His book is well written and a quick read. If you want to get to know the New Jersey Pine Barrens and don't know where to start, I'd recommend finding a copy to read.

There is a short article in the Burlington County Times on April 16, 2014 with a few photos from the 1963 Black Saturday fires in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, thanks to my friends at New Jersey Forest Fire Service Section B10 website for making me aware of this article.

Added on April 14, 11 AM EDT. I believe that I first learned about how the ecology of the Pine Barrens is adapted to fire from reading John McPhee's book. McPhee writes:

Of all the natural phenomena of the Pine Barrens, the most startling one is the speed with which the vegetation comes back from fire. There has been so much fire in the pines for so many centuries that, through the resulting processes of natural selection. the species that grow there are not only highly flammable but are able to tolerate fire and come back quickly. (McPhee, 1967, The Pine Barrens, p. 118).
That being said, and even though I myself have witnessed how quickly sections of the Pine Barrens burned in the 2007 Warren Grove Fire have come back, a fire of that magnitude (about 15,000 acres) or larger has the potential to cause loss of property and loss of life. I dread the day that we see another fire of the size that burned on Black Saturday in 1963.

The Pinelands Preservation Alliance has some great information on the Pine Barrens and does work advocating for the Pine Barrens. The Pinelands Preservation Alliance has a webpage on Fire in the Pines with some photos and links to two videos, which I've embedded below. You will learn how the ecology of the Pine Barrens depends on fire. The first video is taken from a DVD that the Pinelands Preservation Alliance produced called The Pine Barrens: Up Close and Natural. The second video is a report from NJN News Public Television one year after the 2007 Warren Grove Fire.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Videos of Turbo-Cat dropping on wildfires

Thanks to my friends at Downstown Aero Crop Services who wanted me to share these videos with you. They gave me permission to embed their videos of the Turbo-Cat dropping on some fires on April 13. The videos are posted on Downstown's (public) Facebook Page. I wrote about the Lower Bank Fire on April 14. In that same article on April 14 I wrote about wildfire in Salem City where two brush trucks were destroyed with no injuries, I am not certain if the fire in the first video is the same fire that I wrote about.

Here in New Jersey, our SEATs are doing good work, dropping on wildfires in support of the wildland firefighters on the ground. Nice work everyone. Stay safe!

Out of Service Fire, Salem NJ C-10 4/13/14 (posted April 14)

Lower Bank Fire Turbine Cat Drop (posted April 13)

Drop #2 Lower bank B2 (posted April 13)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring fire season in NJ continues - April 13

Spring fire season continues here in New Jersey with all its attendant dangers as outline in this Asbury Park Press article.

This past Sunday (April 13) was a busy day. In Salem City New Jersey a brush fire cropped up in an area dominated by phragmites and other weeds. Two brush vehicles, from the Pennsville and Elsinboro fire departments were destroyed in this wind driven fire. The firefighters in the two vehicles did get out. Approximately 100 acres were burned before the brush fire was brought under control later in the day. A SEAT under contract with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service dropped on the fire. An article with photos from the South Jersey Times reporting on the fire may be found here, and a video which includes a shot of the SEAT from NBC10 in Philadelphia may be found here.

Thanks to my friends at New Jersey Forest Fire Service Section B10 (last updates on April 13 about 1830 to 1900 hours), I know about three more wildfires that burned yesterday in central and southern New Jersey.
  • In Atco, Waterford Township (Section C11) a wild fire (size unknown) burned near the Atco Raceway. A single engine airtanker (SEAT) on contract with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service dropped on the fire in support of the wildland firefighters on the ground. The fire was partially contained as of 1900 hours last night.
  • A 10 to 20 acre fired burned in Brick Township (Section B8) yesterday with support from a SEAT and a helicopter. The fire is now contained. Article from Newsworks (thanks to Mike Archer from firebomber publications (WNOTD)
  • The third fire that I know about (I suspect that there are many I don't know about) has burned approximately 20 acres in Lower Bank (Burlington County, Section B2). Two SEATs and a Huey Helicopter with a bucket dropped on the fire.
I just got my copy of Mike Archers' Firebomber Publications/Wildfire News of the Day and saw this article from OCSignal on a small, 1/2 acre fire in Manchester (Burlington County) NJ that a SEAT dropped on. Nice job to the SEAT pilot and the ground crews for keeping this fire small.

Stay safe everyone!

Revised at 4:25 PM EDT

Friday, April 11, 2014

Edison Fire (New Jersey): Final update

I wrote yesterday about a fire that was burning in Edison New Jersey near the Raritan Center. I understand from this wildland fire hotlist thread that the final acreage for this fire is 193.5 acres burned, and that it was declared under control at 17:20 last night. Go here for the latest update from NJ dot com (with photos).

Stay safe everyone!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Just in -- wildland firefighters battling brush fire (Edison NJ)

I was perusing some media outlets just now when I came across a short report on NJ dot com about a wildfire burning in Edison (Middlesex County) NJ near the Raritan Center, the story from NJ dot com may be found here. I then went to the NJ Forest Fire Section B10 and saw that they just reported on the fire in the "Current NJ Wildfire Activity" section on their homepage (scroll down a bit).

I will update this thread later on as I find out more information on this wildfire.

Update: April 10, 2:50 PM As I write this, this fire, reported at about 11 AM, continues to burn with a noticeable smell of smoke. I'm not quite sure how many acres have burned. I saw a report on News12New Jersey (not publicly available) and also on the the website of NJ Forest Fire Section B10 that a helicopter with a bucket was making drops on the fire.

Update: 6:20 PM Fire has burned approximately 250 acres and according to this report with video by ABC7 in NYC is at 95 percent containment. An updated article (with photos) is also available from NJ dot com.

Enhanced fire danger in NJ continues for April 10

The National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, NJ issued a Special Weather Statement at 9:03 AM on Thursday, April 10 for an enhanced risk of wildfire spread this afternoon:
Low Relative humidity levels, a gusty southwest wind and drying fine fuels will create an elevated risk for the spread of wildfires this afternoon. Wind should be sustained in the 10 to 15 mph range with gusts to 20 mph.
Please do not park vehicles in grassy areas and ensure proper disposal of any smoking materials. It only takes one improperly disposed cigarette to ignite a fire. ...
Yesterday (Wed. April 9) we were also under a risk for enhanced fire danger. I did spend some time on and off yesterday afternoon listening to some online scanner feed for New Jersey Forest Fire Service Division B, hearing several reports of wildfire activity, probably activity that was of smaller acreage. I saw this because I saw no reports in the media, at least what I could find, of wildfire activity. I am reasonably certain that media would pick up on major wildfire activity (100 acres or more), but there may well be activity that I do not know about as well as media reports that I could not find.

I did hear a report, confirmed by my friends at Downstown Aero -- (supply Single Engine Airtankers on contract to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service) -- that Alpha 3 (Ag-Cat, 300 gallons) made one drop on a wildfire in or near Lake Hopatcong NJ (Division A). I do not know the size of the fire. My friends at Downstown Aero did tell me that there were no drops in Division C (southern New Jersey), but got the impression that there were smaller fires that the wildland firefighters on the ground worked.

I'd like to thank all New Jersey Wildland Firefighters on the ground and in the air, various support operations, and mutual aid responders for all you do to keep us safe here in New Jersey! Stay safe everyone!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Devious Mount Fire (NJ) -- contained

As sometimes happens, yesterday got away with me with a few items of personal business that required my attention, so I am only now making the promised post updating the Devious Mount Fire that I wrote about here. The fire burned approximately 1,600 acres and was declared 100 percent contained late in the afternoon on Monday, April 7. As I write this, my friends at the NJ Forest Fire Service Section B10 webpage have a final report on the fire with some nice photos on their home page (just scroll down a bit). According to the NJ Forest Fire Service Section B10 webpage initial resources included:

40 firefighters
7 engines
2 tractor plows
2 Single Engine Airtankers (SEATs)
1 type 3 helicopter

A link to a map showing the location of the fire may be found here here.

The last news report from 6ABC in Philadelphia with a video may be found here. Finally, there is the Wildland Fire hotlist thread for the Devious Mount Fire.

There is enhanced fire risk this afternoon and again tomorrow afternoon here in New Jersey, so I'll be doing my best to try to follow what might be going on. I do have some reflections following up on the Devious Mount Fire that I want to write about, if not later this afternoon then in a day or so.