Wildfire burns in Jackson, NJ as Red Flag Warning in effect
🔴 The fire broke out as a Red Flag Warning was in effect
🔴 Officials were working to keep a polling location open
🔴 Two exits off Route 195 were closed
JACKSON — A wildfire broke out in Ocean County Tuesday afternoon as most of the state was under a Red Flag Warning as low humidity and gusty winds created ideal conditions for the rapid spread of wildfire.
The fire along West Commodore Boulevard at Cedar Swamp Road just south of Route 195 consumed 50 acres, threatened 30 structures and was 0% contained as of 9:40 p.m. Fire crews are creating a containment line around the structures to keep them protected. No mandatory evacuations have been ordered.
Exits 21 (Route 527) and 22 (Georgia, Jackson Mills) from Route 195 are both closed.
Jackson police said the following roads are also closed:
- Cedar Swamp Rd. from E. Commodore Blvd. to Jackson Mills Rd.,
- Jackson Mills Rd. from Cedar Swamp to E Commodore Blvd.,
- E Commodore Blvd. from Jackson Mills Rd. to Cedar Swamp Rd.
One driver on Route 195 said that her throat burned and her eyes watered while she drove.
The Lakewood Scoop reported several homes were being evacuated.
Keeping polling locations open
Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronardy told New Jersey 101.5 his officers are working with Jackson police to keep the polling location for Districts 7, 8, 9 and 27 open at the Jackson 21 Welcome Center.
"The road closure is about 100 feet before that. We spoke with Jackson police and we're making sure people have the opportunity to vote," Mastronardy said.
There were four smaller grass and wildfire fires in Bridgewater, Montgomery Township and the Swartswood State Park in Stillwater Township that consumed less than a quarter-acre each, according to the Forest Fire Service. Additionally, there was a small fire in an electrical shed that broke out early Tuesday morning at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, but was contained to the shed and didn't threaten the park, according to a spokeswoman for Six Flags.
Bill Donnelly, assistant state firewarden for the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, said that staff is doubled up when a Red Flag Warning is issued.
"Approximately 60 of our fire engines are in patrol mode waiting to be dispatched in the event of a fire, our towers are staffed. Today's haze because of the smoke coming down from Canada is making things a little difficult to see," Donnelly said.
Two helicopters are also on standby, one of which is available to pour water onto a fire.
Fire threat continues
New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said the winds are predominantly out of the northwest, which would potentially blow smoke and fire toward the southeast.
"That is a sparse area of Jackson, but there are pockets of homes around," Zarrow said. "Fire weather conditions will improve Wednesday, as wind dies down. But relative humidity will be even lower than today.
Zarrow said the the dry brush concerns will remain until there is some solid rainfall which could happen early next week.