Ash and Smoke in Lakewood from Burlington County Forrest Fire
The distinct smell of a wood fire and even small drops of ash were detectable Sunday around Lakewood and the surrounding area stemming from a large blaze in Penn State Forrest in Burlington county.
The fire was first spotted on Shabbos afternoon and by Sunday afternoon had spread to engulf nearly 10,000 acres of woodlands. It took the better part of the day to contain the blaze, a process done largely by destroying brush around the affected area. The area is sparsely populated, and no injuries or damage of private property or buildings have been reported.
Authorities said that high winds carried the smell, ash, and even some wafting smoke across to neighboring Ocean County and even as far north as Monmouth and Hudson Counties.
In Lakewood, over 35 north of the fire, a slight haze was visible starting Sunday morning and small spots of white ash dropped occasionally.
Penn State Forrest is in Woodland Township and spans 3,500 acres. It is located in what is known as the Pine Barrens region. As of Sunday, the cause of the fire was unknown, and an investigation was ongoing.
No Plans to Ban Unvaccinated Children form Public Places in Ocean County
Local and state officials said that despite the resurgence of a measles outbreak in Ocean County, there are no plans to ban unvaccinated citizens from public places, a move made last week by New York’s Rockland County.
Rockland County, which contains Monsey and surrounding areas, has been hardest hit by the recent spike on cases of the highly contagious virus, with 153 cases reported since October. The vast majority of those infected have long since recovered. The county’s executive, Ed Day announced that as the outbreak has continued unabated, he was taking the step of banning all unvaccinated minors from public places with 10 people or more such as schools, houses of worship, parks, and public transportation.
Cases were first reported in Lakewood this past November and initially reached a peak of 33 cases, before the outbreak was declared over in mid-January. A new outbreak was announced by the state Health Department two weeks ago with eight cases confirmed so far.
Both a spokesman for the state and Lakewood mayor Ray Coles told the Asbury Park Press that there were no plans in the works to follow Rockland’s example and sighted many less drastic interim steps that could be taken should the outbreak continue to rise. This past fall, clinics set up outdoor tents to evaluate suspected measles cases and mass immunization programs vaccinated many residents. For several weeks of the outbreak’s peak, most area schools disallowed unvaccinated children from attending classes.
Law will Require New Constructions to Have Illuminated Address Signs
Lakewood Township enacted a new ordinance requiring all new buildings to have their addresses marked with illuminated signs.
Hatzlalah and other emergency responders have long urged residents to mark their homes and offices with clear signs that can be seen at all times of day in the event that the location must be reached quickly. The ordinance covers both residential and commercial constructions.
First Toms River Chometz Burn to Take Place
The first official site for burning chometz in Toms River is scheduled to take place this erev Pesach.
It will take place at the Ocean County Fire Academy located on Church Road and will begin at 8am and is a joint project of the Jewish Community Council of Toms River and the local fire department and public works.
The site will also have a dumpster that will be available to non-chometz garbage, but not bulk items.
GOP Assembly Members Recommend Adding Protections to Assisted Suicide Bill
Assembly Republicans are urging Governor Phil Murphy to add addition protections to a bill legalizing physician assisted suicide passed last week by both houses of New Jersey Legislature.
The bill was strongly opposed by Agudath Israel of America as well as by several other religious groups who feared not only for what they saw as a violation of the inherent sanctity of life, but risks for many religious doctors and that over time, insurers will become hesitant to treat patients facing terminal diagnoses.
It was passed last week by minimal margins in both houses of the legislature and Governor Murphy has pledged to sign it into law. The GOP safeguards would partially address some of these residual concerns.
Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (R-Bergen) and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Monmouth) have suggested that clauses be added that would allow pharmacies and doctors to opt out of prescribing the drugs based on moral objections and that would prohibit insurers from denying health coverage or emergency treatment even after the lethal drug has been prescribed or been made available.
Presently, the bill already requires a psychological evaluation and imposes fines for coercing someone to take the lethal medications.
The bill, which allows doctors to prescribe lethal drugs for patients diagnosed with a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less was first introduced over six years ago, but stalled under a veto threat from former Governor Chris Christie. With the election of Governor Murphy who voiced support for the measure advocates stepped up their efforts. It passed by the minimum number of votes for passage in both the Assembly and Senate and was opposed by nearly all of the GOP caucus.