The Wharton State Forest Fire which started as a small blaze on Sunday morning will have destroyed approximately 15,000 acres before being completely extinguished, making it New Jersey’s largest wildfire in the past last 15 years.
As crews continued to work on Tuesday to completely extinguish the blaze, smoke spread to parts of the state, causing foggy conditions and air quality issues.
According to Shawn LaTourette, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the New Jersey Wildfire Service, that didn’t have to happen.
He said most wildfires are caused by negligence and “it’s important to recognize that because it puts us, in our power, to avoid circumstances like this.”
Illegal campfire suspected
During an update on the wildfire on Tuesday, New Jersey Fire Department Chief Greg McLaughlin said in all likelihood an illegal and unattended makeshift campfire was the cause. likely from the fire.
In New Jersey, you need a permit to camp at a designated campsite in a state forest, and your permit serves as a campfire permit, but only in that specified area.
“I don’t think people are generally ill-willed,” LaTourette said. “I don’t think anyone wants to see thousands of acres of our Pinelands go up in smoke, but all of our actions have consequences.”
Be careful in nature
“We need to take our use of the natural environment very seriously, and that includes making sure we avoid wildfire hazards,” LaTourette said.
Because pitching a tent and building a campfire outside of a designated campsite is against the law, he noted that “illegal campfires, campfires that are not fully extinguished continue to pose a big risk.”
He said we all need to make sure we take care of each other in New Jersey “by making sure we follow the rules and avoiding the risk of wildfires, this is serious, this is not not a Smoky Bear cartoon, it’s real.”
The investigation into the start of the wildfire continues, and state officials have not ruled out possible criminal charges once the investigation is complete.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
Click here to contact an editor about a comment or correction for this story.
These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey
A trip to New Jersey doesn’t have to be just the beach. Our state has incredible trails, waterfalls and lakes to enjoy.
From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to New Jersey’s hidden gems, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it’s a great workout.
If you descend and encounter an uphill hiker, pull to the side and give the uphill hiker some space. An uphill hiker has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.
Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless marked as an official trail, avoid them. Going off the trail, you risk damaging the ecosystems around the trail, the plants and wildlife that live there.
You also don’t want to disturb any wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.
Cyclists must yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also give in to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you’ll encounter on New Jersey trails.
If you plan to take your dog on your hike, they must be on a leash and be sure to clean up all pet waste.
Finally, pay attention to the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it’s probably best to save your hike for another day.
I asked our listeners for their suggestions on the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:
Cape May, NJ: 15 Wonderful Places to Visit
15 Sensational Places to Visit in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park
From the rides to all the boardwalk food to the many water fun, Seaside Heights and nearby Seaside Park has remained a family friendly place for all ages.
Along the way, the Seaside Heights boardwalk and Casino Pier were hit by tragic disasters, such as a fire, Super Hurricane Sandy, and another fire. Both have proven their resilience through reconstruction and expansion.