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.