Massive West Milford wildfire burns 648 acres, 25% contained: Officials

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, April 13, 2023
West Milford wildfire burns 400 acres, 40% contained: Officials
The wildfire in West Milford, New Jersey has reached 400 acres in size and is 40% contained, according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. Anthony Johnson has the breaking developments.

WEST MILFORD, New Jersey (WABC) -- The wildfire in West Milford, New Jersey has reached 648 acres in size and containment has been reduced to 25%, according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

The fire started near the rest stop off Route 23 North and Spring Lake Road in the woods, according to West Milford Mayor Michele Dale.

Echo Lake Road is still closed between Route 23 and Macopin Road, which is closed at Hylander.

Over two dozen firefighters have been working to contain the blaze. One structure has been evacuated and nine residential structures are being threatened by the fire in addition to one commercial structure.

NewsCopter 7 was above the fire Thursday, and captured just how far that smoke spread, along with choppers dousing flames with buckets of water.

ALSO READ | What is a Red Flag Warning?

Officials say crews started a backfiring operation to help contain the fire near Echo Lake.

Residents are being advised to keep their windows closed to avoid smoke that may be traveling through the air. Officials are restricting campfires and open agricultural burning.

Zachary Turner says it was like his neighborhood was covered in fog. Every breath was filled with smoke.

"I live right on Butler over here about a mile and a half away and just opening my window, I was able to smell it and looking around, you could see the sky was getting cloudier," he said.

April is peak fire season in New Jersey, officials said.

A firefighter who was fighting an unrelated brush fire in Sussex County later suffered a heart attack and died at home.

On Wednesday, fire crews worked to put out aforest fire spanning across 3,900 acres in Manchester Township, Ocean County.

Crews are battling a massive 3,859-acre forest fire in Manchester Township, Ocean County.

That fire is now 100% contained, New Jersey officials said.

Unlike the terrain where the Manchester Township wildfire occurred, the land in West Milford is steep and rocky, officials said. Chief of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Greg McLaughlin says this makes fighting flames more difficult and requires more work by hand.

"It's very fatiguing and you start to see that fatigue set in," McLaughlin said. He attributes the heat and long hours with the pressure on these New Jersey firefighters, some of whom also battled flames in Manchester Township

The cause of the West Milford fire remains under investigation.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New Jersey news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.