Firefighters Battle 200-Foot Flames In New Jersey Wildfire

[Screenshot/youTube/6 ABC Philadelphia]

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Firefighters in New Jersey continue to battle a raging wildfire that has already claimed nearly 4,000 acres since it began Tuesday evening.

After battling 200-foot flames, New Jersey Forest Fire Service Chief Greg McLaughlin told reporters the fire that has cut through nearly 4,000 acres of the state and federal protected reserve known as the Pine Barrens, was now 60% contained, according to ABC News.

“The synopsis for today is to continue to improve and reinforce the control lines and continue to mop up,” Forest Fire Service Assistant Warden Trevor Raynor added, according to NBC News.

The fire forced the evacuation of around 170 homes near Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, with many residents taking up temporary shelter at a local high school, ABC News stated. High winds pushed the flames onto the installation, but as yet have caused no structural damage, NBC News reported.

“This fire exhibited extreme fire behavior,” John Cecil, an assistant commissioner in the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, said of the fire, according to ABC News. “I don’t mean to be dramatic, but this was a severe situation that these guys and gals managed to keep in a place and protect lives and property from that.”

While forest fires are not uncommon in the 1.1 million acre Pine Barrens region, fire officials stated that warmer weather is contributing to an earlier than usual fire season. “Where we would typically see fires peaking in April, we’re starting to see fires starting to peak at the end of March and today, yesterday, in early April, as well,” McLaughlin stated, according to NBC News. (RELATED: One Year Of Wildfires Wiped Out Nearly 20 Years Of California Emissions Cuts)

As yet, fire officials aren’t sure what started the blaze, but McLaughlin noted, according to NBC News, “approximately 99% of wildfires are human-caused,” adding that it could be “accidental or intentional.”

“So we’ll continue to look into it,” McLaughlin promised.

As firefighters were successful in containing 60% of the blaze, the fire chief did not foresee the need to order more evacuations even as crews continue to work to put out the remaining fires, the outlet stated.