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Wildfire Danger Increases Across The Garden State [AUDIO]

Firefighters continue to battle a wildfire in the Pinelands, that has already charred a thousand acres and another blaze near McGuire-Fort Dix in Lakehurst.

Meanwhile, fire danger levels are being raised across Jersey.

Larry Ragonese, Press Director for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, says right now “there’s a very high danger of forest fires across the state- we’re at one of the higher alert situations right now – the National Weather Service has also continued to issue their red flag warnings…the danger has been elevated by high winds, and also we have a combination of the very dry weather – which we’ve had for many weeks now – and low humidity.”

He says in these kinds of conditions – that are so dry – any spark can start roaring fire within minutes – when “someone throws a cigarette out of a car window – someone’s careless with a home-made campfire…we’re really asking people going outside into the woods – anywhere in natural areas- around the entire state right now – to be very careful…use ash trays in your vehicles, you’ve got to obtain permits for campfires- keep your matches and lighters away from children.”

Ragonese adds if you live out in the woods, you should actually maintain a buffer around your home “so that if there is a fire – anywhere within 30 to 50 feet of your structure – there won’t be kindling or materials that would cause a problem for you.”

At the same time he stresses residents should not attempt a “controlled burn” on their own – because they might wind up starting a fire that destroys their own home!

Ragonese says if you’re going camping, or spending time in the woods, do not, under any circumstances – light a fire – but rather “wait a couple of weeks, we’ll get some rain – enjoy yourself, but nothing to do with sparks and fires and matches…the brush, the trees, the leaves – everything is ready to go up – it’s like you throw a match into a pile of hay…if you do see or smell smoke, the public can please feel free to give us a call at 1-877-WARN-DEP.”

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