Plane that crashed, sparking NJ wildfire, was on 4th flight of the day
🔥 The plane went down in a heavily wooded area near Robert J. Miller Airpark
🔥 The FAA's incident report said there was a "post crash fire."
🔥 The plane was on its fourth flight of the day
LACEY —The plane that crashed near the Robert J. Miller Airpark Saturday, sparking a wildfire, was on its fourth flight of the day, according to FlightAware.com.
The Airpark Wildfire was reported 2:30 a.m. Sunday after the single-engine Cirrus SR20 crashed near the small airport in Lacey. It is 100% contained and burned 831 acres as of Tuesday night, according to the NJ Forest Fire Service.
FAA records show the plane is owned by Zarot of Long Branch. FlightAware.com reported the plane left the Monmouth Jet Center, formerly known as the Monmouth Executive Airport in Wall, at 9:29 p.m. and went down at 10:17 p.m. The FAA in its incident report said there was a "post crash fire."
Earlier in the day the plane flew from Monmouth to Brandywine Regional Airport in West Chester, Pennsylvania. It took off again from Brandywine and landed at Solberg Airport in Readington before making a return flight to Monmouth. The plane was on the ground for several hours until its final flight.
The same plane flew three times on Friday between Monmouth, Brandywine and Solberg and three times on Thursday from Monmouth to Atlantic City and Miller.
The FAA and NTSB are investigating the cause of the crash.
Smokey smell remains
Heavy smoke and fire along with rough terrain made it difficult for firefighters to reach the crash scene until Sunday afternoon, according to Lacey police. It was confirmed that the pilot, the only person on board, was dead. The identity of the pilot was not released.
The fire area included property managed by Ocean County and the Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Area.
Firefighters were on scene all night into Tuesday morning. A smoke mell may also linger in the air. Dover Road and Mule Road are still closed as of 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Firefighters will remain present until there is significant rainfall, which may not happen until the weekend at the earliest, according to New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.
Popcorn Park Zoo is OK
One of the threatened areas was the Popcorn Park Zoo in the Forked River section, which closed Sunday as a precaution. Director John Bergman said the wind was blowing from the west, keeping smoke and fire away from the zoo.
"They set some backburns at the back side of our property. When that went up if you were in the zoo and saw all that smoke come up you were like 'oh my God' but it never even approached on us," Bergman said.
Bergman said the state asked for the zoo to close to keep traffic down on Rooute 539 in the area and equipment could be moved around more easily.