MANCHESTER – Township officials provided kudos to police, firefighters, EMS and local businesses who all came together during last month’s wildfire crisis that caused the evacuation of area residents.
Mayor Robert Arace provided his thanks for the efforts made to protect lives and property. “It was miraculous the structural protection done down on Beckerville Road and by Proving Ground Church in Lakehurst which had 200-foot flames there and see the flames go around structures.”
“It is really astonishing. Thank you for your great work,” the mayor said in regards to firefighters.
Councilman James Vaccaro described the April 11 wildfire as historic. “It consumed approximately 4,000 acres of the Pine Barrens and 170 homes were evacuated. Our firefighters, various EMS units and various police departments, mutual aid units from Ocean and Monmouth counties and various state and county agencies responded to the need for help.
“Everyone did an excellent job containing the fire in Manchester Township and the fire that was fast moving through Lakehurst. The fire teams saved Lakehurst as much as they could with no loss of life, homes or businesses,” he added.
Councilman Joseph Hankins who has extensive experience in firefighting noted “a lot of people think you fight a forest fire with water but you actually fight a forest fire with fire. That is how it works.”
Hankins who spent the night at the Whiting firehouse that served as the command post for the wildfire, commended the Whiting Fire Company’s Ladies Auxiliary.
“They kept us hydrated and caffeinated for 36 hours straight. I got to the fire early and there was food, coffee and the crockpot had pulled pork in it. They did a great job,” he added.
Hankins, Vaccaro, Councilman Craig Wallis and Police Chief Robert Dolan each acknowledged local businesses such as Dicky’s BBQ that opened up all night and the Whiting Wawa store that provided food and beverages to police and firefighters. “They were very important in this,” Wallis noted.
Councilwoman Michele Zolezi echoed the sentiments about the emergency responders who fought the wildfire. “The communication was excellent. Our office of emergency management along with our police department did an excellent job. We are grateful that there were no injuries or loss of life. We have a great community that works together.”
Council President Roxy Conniff also commended “our police and fire companies, state fire service, all the surrounding fire companies that came to help us. We had very little structural damage and no loss of life. I believe we have the best police and fire departments in the state.”