BASS RIVER, New Jersey -- The New Jersey Forest Fire Service is working to contain a wildfire burning in the area of Allen Road in Bass River State Forest.
As of 10:15 p.m. Thursday, the wildfire in Bass River Township has reached over 5,000 acres in size and is 50% contained, according to officials.
During a news conference, officials said they may be working to put out the flames for several days due to the continued warm and dry weather.
Firefighters say they are hopeful that more of the blaze will be contained by Friday.
The Timberline Campground was evacuated and the Batona Trail was closed due to the fire.
The following roads are closed while firefighters work to control the flames:
- Allen Road
- Oswego Road
- Stage Road between North Maple Avenue and Rt. 679
- Rt. 679 between Rt. 563 and Leaktown Road
The fire first started on Thursday.
"The fire was not accessible with our equipment and vehicles. We worked through the night to try and contain the fire to the smallest area possible," said Chief Greg McLaughlin.
Officials said 70 firefighters were battling the blaze.
"It's devastating in the beginning," said Mayor Deborah Buzby-Cope of Bass River Township. "Nobody wants to see their forest burn down. And we go through it a lot here."
Fortunately, much of the property surrounding the fire has been protected, officials say.
"The houses seem to be in great shape. Our volunteer fire company, the Jersey Forest Fire Service has been wonderful," the mayor said.
It's been a tough year for the New Jersey Forest Fire Service due to the lack of rain. Because of this, conditions may remain ideal for fires like this one.
"The ongoing drought that we've been in, even though we get some rainfall here, some rainfall there, with the uniqueness of the pine barrens it dries out rather quickly," said John Earline from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.
Fire officials also say the overwhelming majority of forest fires are caused by human activity, so residents are asked to be cautious as the warmer months progress.