Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wildfire activity on April 19th in New Jersey

I spent much of the afternoon into the early evening listening to the online scanner for NJFFS Division B (central NJ), which also picks up some channels from northern New Jersey. I have been listening to such scanner feed, on an off, for a few years now and I am getting better at picking up what is going on. Still, I am no expert, so I expect that I missed things. Anyway, from what I heard there was a lot of activity going on, and I heard at least once instance of the Division B SEAT, Bravo 1 being launched and a couple of references to the Division A helo and bucket (Delta 6) in the air. I could be wrong, but I think that the NJ Forest Fire Service crews were able to contain or bring these (smaller?) wildfires under control in a reasonable amount of time. I did my usual scan of NJ and Philadelphia media and so no references to any media reports of any wildfire activity from the scanner feed that I was listening to.

What I did hear about in the early afternoon was two brush fires in the NJ Meadowlands in Hudson County, New Jersey. I believe but am not certain that Hudson County and adjoining areas of Bergen County (the Meadowlands extend north into Bergen County) are not in the New Jersey Forest Fire Service (NJFFS) Primary Response Area. At least I saw no reference to the NJFFS crews working these brush fires.

I am not certain of the total acreage burned so I am not going to report acreage here, but I am thinking that at least one hundred acres may have burned. Many years ago, I lived in one of the towns adjoining the NJ Meadowlands for several years so I am somewhat familiar with the geography and can personally attest to not infrequent brush fires in the Meadowlands. I also know that the Meadowlands can be difficult to access. The municipal firefighters in the towns abutting the Meadowlands are well versed in fighting these brush fires. A couple of hours to contain such a fire is not uncommon. And yes, as I can personally attest to, these brush fires can hamper visibility on nearby highways. Not to mention disrupt passenger train service on the lines (Amtrak and New Jersey Transit) that go through the Meadowlands into New York City.

Back to the brush fires. There were two separate brush fires that started early yesterday afternoon, one in Secaucus that started in the Meadowlands near exit 16E of the New Jersey Turnpike. And the second in Kearny near I-280 on Harrison Ave (which changes its name to the Newark Turnpike. I put together an image for you from Google Earth where I place to yellow pins in the approximate area where the two brushfires started.

It was a very smoky fire, thick black smoke. Amtrak and NJ Transit suspended train service for a time yesterday afternoon before resuming service in time for the evening rush (with delays). I'd like to commend all the municipal firefighters that responded to the brush fires for doing a great job in bringing these brush fires under control. On a day when all of New Jersey was under a Red Flag Warning, the results could have been a lot worse. I hope that these brush fires don't rekindle as we continue to experience an elevated risk for wildfires today and Red Flag Warnings tomorrow.

Here are some media links:

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