As New Jersey Brush Fire Rages, Warning Issued in Connecticut

Dry ground and high winds present a potentially dangerous combination.

An image of a fire burning in Berkeley, New Jersey. Photo Credit: Patch
An image of a fire burning in Berkeley, New Jersey. Photo Credit: Patch
Images of a 300-acre brush fire burning in a New Jersey township are a striking reminder of the devastation that they can cause in such a short time.

The fire in New Jersey came the same day that the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag alert for Connecticut due to the "very high" potential for a forest fire in the state. The alert expired at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, but state environmental officials say conditions will remain cause for concern till May when fresh forest undergrowth comes in.

A small brush fire was reported Thursday evening in Orange, Conn. — about two hours before the alert expired. It apparently started in a mulch pile at a local landscaping facility and then spread to a nearby wooded area, according to News 12 reporter Brandon Walker.

“Residents need to know that any permit to burn brush is not valid when the Forest Fire Danger is rated high, very high, or extreme,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen. “Anyone spotting a forest fire should remain calm and dial 911 to report the fire as quickly as possible to the local fire Department.”

In a press release issued Thursday morning, the DEEP warned that fires will be very difficult to control, especially when the winds were gusting over 20 mph throughout much of the day.  

"While many experienced scattered showers with occasional pockets of moderate but brief rain yesterday, relative humidity in the low teens and strong winds quickly dry residual dead or cured vegetation from the previous winter to create ground conditions very conducive for fire ignition and spread," the DEEP says. "These daily variations will last until forest under growth greens during May."

DEEP’s Division of Forestry constantly monitors the danger of forest fire to help protect Connecticut's 1.8 million acres of forested land. Forest fire danger levels are classified as low, moderate, high, very high or extreme.

Forest Fire Prevention Tips

DEEP encourages residents of Connecticut to protect their families and homes from forest fire by:

  • Making a fire safe zone around your house. Clean flammable vegetation and debris from at least 30 feet around the house and any outbuildings;
  • Pruning away the lower limbs of evergreens that are within the fire safe zone. Evergreens catch fire easily during dry periods and burn quickly;
  • Removing any limbs which overhang the roof or chimney;
  • Regularly removing leaves and needles from gutters;
  • Not storing firewood in the fire safe zone;
  • Using fire resistant roofing materials;
  • Making sure firefighters can find and access your home. Mark your house and roads clearly and prune away limbs and trees along your driveway which do not allow fire truck access;
  • Having an escape plan and practicing it;
  • Following state and local open burning laws;
  • Staying with outside fires until they are completely safe and dead out; and
  • Disposing of wood ashes in a metal bucket, soaking them with water before dumping them.

For those who enjoy the use of Connecticut’s parks, forests, and open spaces, use fires with caution and follow these recommendations:

  • Obey local laws regarding open fires, including campfires;
  • Keep all flammable objects away from fire;
  • Have firefighting tools nearby and handy;
  • Carefully dispose of hot charcoal;
  • Drown all fires;
  • Extinguish smoking materials with caution.

For more information on fire safety, contact DEEP’s Forestry Division at (860) 424-3630.

More on New Jersey's Fire


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