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Strong, dry winds buffet growing wildfire in southern New Jersey

By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
April 02, 2019, 2:55:51 AM EDT

A brush fire sparked in Penn State Forest in Burlington County, New Jersey, on Saturday and has since spread to encompass over 11,000 acres of forest.

The affected area in southeastern New Jersey has not received measurable rainfall since March 25, or more than 0.1 of an inch of rain since March 22. Although the area received near-normal amounts of rain during the past month, recently strong, dry winds have quickly dried out the brush.

John Rieth, an assistant warden with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, said that as of noon Sunday, about 75 percent of the fire was contained, but not under control. By 8:00 a.m. Monday, 100 percent containment was achieved.

The Burlington Fire Strike team was activated soon after the fire was reported on Saturday, and there are about 50 firefighters and 17 trucks from the state's Forest Fire Service working to contain the fire, Rieth said.

The fire started in the midst of a string of dry, breezy days.

"A gusty northwest wind will continue Monday with very dry conditions and low relative humidity this afternoon and northwest wind gusts of 30-35 mph," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike LeSeney.

While Route 72 was closed in the vicinity of the fire for a time this weekend, no structures are in immediate danger, and no evacuations have been ordered.

However, many took note of the smoke on social media from areas as far away as New York City.

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"Tuesday will be a better fire-fighting day, with significantly less wind and higher humidity," LeSeney said.

An offshore storm is forecast to pass close enough to bring rain to parts of New Jersey and other coastal areas during Tuesday night to Wednesday. However, gusty winds with the storm are also forecast, especially in coastal areas.

Residents of southeastern New Jersey should stay up to date on local news, warnings and potential evacuation notices until it has been fully contained.

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