Authorities say fire whipped by high winds has spread over thousands of acres of state forest land in the Pinelands of New Jersey.
State environmental protection department officials say the blaze was reported Saturday afternoon in Penn State Forest in Woodland Township, Burlington County, near the Ocean County border. A Lakewood resident told Hamodia that the smell of the fire reached the town, and that some white ash is visible. “It smells like Erev Pesach,” he said.
Department spokesman Larry Hajna said the blaze had grown to 8,000 acres by Sunday morning, with about 50 percent containment. Officials said plumes of smoke were visible at least as far north as Freehold in central Monmouth County.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation. The area affected has few dwellings or other buildings, and no injuries or mandatory evacuations have been reported. A voluntary shelter was set up in an elementary school for anyone who wished to evacuate.