Firefighters contain most of NJ forest fire

A forest fire in the New Jersey Pinelands that had burned 670 acres was about 60 percent contained Tuesday. (AP Photo/Chris Polk)

July 27, 2010 12:42:12 PM PDT
A fire in the New Jersey Pinelands that consumed a little over a square mile of forest was about 60 percent contained Tuesday, with firefighters reopening a state park previously threatened by the flames.

The blaze, which burned 677 acres, broke out Monday afternoon in Bass River Township.

It forced the closure of Bass River State Forest and the evacuation of an unknown number of visitors, staff and campers, said Bert Plante, a spokesman for the state Forest Fire Service.

The park and campground were reopened Tuesday afternoon, but boating was prohibited because it might take too long to bring the vessels to shore if the fire worsened.

Plante expected 80 percent of the fire to be contained by dusk.

"All morning and into the early afternoon, the winds were blowing the flames back onto the main body of fire rather than spreading it outward," he said. "We have got quite a bit of fire occurring in two big swampy areas at the center of the fire. But we feel confident about it behaving itself and staying in there."

No populated areas are threatened.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. It began in a swampy area inaccessible to firefighters.

More than 40 firefighters battled the blaze Tuesday with 13 fire engines, three bulldozers and two helicopters.