Ocean County wildfire 75% contained; another burning in West Milford

Thursday, April 13, 2023
Crews battle massive brush fire in West Milford, wildfire in Ocean County
CeFaan Kim is in West Milford, New Jersey where crews were battling a massive brush fire near Route 23. He also has the latest on a separate wildfire in Manchester.

MANCHESTER TWP., New Jersey (WABC) -- Crews have made substantial progress as they battle a massive forest fire, spanning across 3,859 acres in Manchester Township, Ocean County.

By Wednesday afternoon, another brush fire broke out near a highway in West Milford, New Jersey. The fire has reached 140 acres in size and is 0% contained, according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

The second fire Wednesday came as officials worked overnight and into the day to get the Ocean County fire 75% contained. No injuries have been reported and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

WATCH: Officials give the latest details on the wildfire

A mandatory evacuation order was issued for residents on Division Street in Lakehurst on Tuesday night, but by 5 a.m. Wednesday, residents were able to return to their homes.

Officials say 170 homes evacuated between Manchester Township and Lake Roseboro and 60 families showed up at a shelter.

One official from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, Trevor Raynor, recalls seeing the dramatic flames upon arriving at the scene of the wildfire.

"We saw 200-foot flames," he said. John Cecil, Commissioner for State Parks says he saw a wall of fire.

There are no longer any structures threatened by the fast-moving fire.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Fire Department are both working to gain control of the fire that is burning on federal, state and private property along Route 539 and Horicon Avenue.

Crews are battling a massive 3,859-acre forest fire in Manchester Township, Ocean County. Anthony Johnson has the story.

Manchester Township officials say there are crews patrolling the area Wednesday, looking out for any flames or signs of wildfires.

ALSO READ | What is a Red Flag Warning?

There are 75 personnel working on containment. Helicopters, UTVs, trucks and other equipment remain on scene. Fifteen reported fires occurred Tuesday across the state, but officials said these numbers may shift. April is peak fire season in New Jersey, however state officials confirmed they are seeing a slight increase from last year.

Officials said no additional evacuations are planned but urge people to remain aware of their surroundings and drive carefully through smoke.

Crews are "almost sure" the containment will hold but are being conservative on numbers due to the current fire weather, Raynor said.

Authorities also said there are no issues with air quality in the area. Chief of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Greg McLaughlin says, like all wildfires in New Jersey, this wildfire is being investigated.

"Keep in mind that 99 percent of wildfires are human-caused whether that be accidental or intentional," McLaughlin said.

In Teaneck, one firefighter was hurt while crews worked to put out a brushfire. Members of more than a dozen agencies battled the flames that broke out around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Janice Yu was in Teaneck Wednesday morning with details on both fires:

Mandatory evacuations were issued in Manchester as this massive wildfire continues to spread. Janice Yu reports.

The wind and dry conditions are making it easier for these fires to spread quickly.

Manchester Township officials said that open agricultural burning and campfires are currently restricted statewide.


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