OCEAN COUNTY – Did you see the big puffy plume of black and grey smoke hanging high over Ocean County Wednesday? Or did you smell that overwhelming burning odor of wood and ash? As they say in the news business, “nothing to see here.” It was a controlled or prescribed burn – nothing to worry about.
While the sight and smell may concern local residents, this is a common procedure carried out by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service throughout the year.
In this case, fire crews were out in the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest and the Wharton State Forest.
The smoke and smells were visible for many miles – some reported seeing the smoke as far away as Island Heights and Atlantic City.
A controlled or prescribed burn is a process when officials apply a small blaze to a predetermined area to prevent the formation of an out-of-control wildfire. Burning off the underbrush helps to combat the potential spread.
The State Department of Environmental Protection said when you see smoke or fire, it’s better to be safe than sorry – call 9-1-1 or call 1-877-WARN-DEP (1-877-927-6337).
You can find out what locations are part of the prescribed burning by visiting the forest fire service website.