The New Jersey Forest Fire Service is extending its controlled burning season due to this winter's severe weather.

Photo Credit: iStock

Controlled or "prescribed" burns generally take place between the end of November and the middle of March, but the extremely cold and wet conditions have prompted officials to extend this year's time frame until April 1.  Assistant Division Forest Fire Warden John Reith says conditions have to be perfect.

"The humidity has to be at a certain level, the winds can only be at a certain level, the temperature can only be at a certain level," Reith said.  "And the intensity of the fire can only be at a certain level."

Those conditions can be hard to come by, and even when they're met, Reith says his crews still take every precaution by cutting fire lines and only burning small sections at a time.  But he says that doesn't mean you should shrug it off if you see smoke.  Instead, call 911.

"I'd rather somebody get mad for answering the phone too many times than if - God forbid - there really was another, unassociated emergency and they didn't realize that,"  Reith said.

Dispatchers can then check in with the Fire Service to make sure the fires are only burning where they're supposed to be.  You can track planned burn locations near you on the State Forestry Service's Facebook Page or contact them by phone at 609-292-2977.

You can also report smoke or wildfires at 1-877-WARN-DEP (927-6337) or by calling 911.