Progress Made On Jackson Wildfire

Photo courtesy Wanamassa Fire Company

  JACKSON – The New Jersey Forest Fire Service and many local firefighting agencies fought a wildfire dubbed the “Glory Fire” on June 6 that originated near East Commodore Boulevard and Cedar Swamp Road. The fire was 70% contained by the next morning.

  The name came from its proximity to Glory’s Market, a well-known grocery store on Cedar Swamp Road. The wildfire impacted more than 50 acres and officials stated that 30 structures had been threatened. Local fire companies responded and set up structure protection to keep homes and other buildings safe.

  Greg McLaughlin the chief state fire warden for New Jersey Forest Fire Service, which is a part of the Department of Environmental Protection, said during a press conference that the fire was reported around 2:26 p.m. “in a very inaccessible area of forest. Our concern was for about 30 homes and the fire was moving in a direction pushed by northeast winds that may have threatened those homes.”

  Firefighters in Manchester Township were also fighting a blaze off Beckerville Road that night.

  Members of the Forest Fire Service said there were no mandatory evacuations nor any injuries reported. Monmouth and Ocean County fire companies combatted the fire, while monitoring changes in wind direction and the course of the blaze.

  The Warden noted that several closures occurred in the area as a result of the wildfire. Exit 21 on Interstate 195 was closed as was East Commodore Boulevard between Cedar Swamp Road and Jackson Mills Road.

  NJ Forest Fire Service Assistant Division Warden Trevor Raynor said “the fire was discovered under Red Flag fire weather conditions. The National Weather Service puts out that alert. A red flag warning means that the forest and the fuels and the weather is all combined to be conducive to a rapid spread of wildfires.”

  “We get that messaging out ahead but unfortunately there was a fire detected and it is burning under these more severe conditions. The fire is burning a little more aggressively than it would this time of year. June is typically our green (flag) season but things are dry out right now, having a lack of rainfall.”

  Jackson Police Captain John Giovanetti said “there were three roads closed to start with including Cedar Swamp which we were able to open for two hours to help traffic flow.”

  Cedar Swamp Road was later closed between East Commodore Boulevard and Jackson Mills Road. Jackson Mills Road was closed between East Commodore Boulevard and Cedar Swamp Road.

Photo by Laura Michelle

  Forest Fire Service crews utilized a backfiring operation to protect surrounding homes and burn fuel ahead of the main body of fire. Additionally, crews built containment lines around the structures threatened.

  Jackson Mayor Michael Reina told The Jackson Times, “The professionalism and coordination of the men and women who responded today demonstrated how fortunate Ocean and Monmouth residents are.”

  “We are very fortunate to have so many dedicated and hard-working individuals protecting us. As of my last briefing, the fire is contained and under control, fire crews will be on scene and ready to respond should the situation change. I was told that bulldozers made fire breaks and back burn was underway to stop any additional spread,” Mayor Reina added.

  Officials reported Stage 3 restrictions in place for northern and central New Jersey which means that no fires of any kind are permitted. There were several fires in the northern part of the state on June 6 as well.

  Stage 2 restrictions remain in place for southern New Jersey which means all fires in wooded areas will be prohibited unless they are in an elevated prepared fireplace.

  The fire officials stressed the lack of significant rain fall in the last 23 days. It was also stated that a 30% increase in fire activity has been recorded in New Jersey so far this year.

  Red flag warnings are serious and not many are issued per year so when they are issued residents should heed those warnings of officials.

  McLaughlin said, “keep in mind that spring is fire season in New Jersey and if some of the elements of the weather come together, low humidity and wind, that is enough to have a significant fire start and spread. Red flag warnings bring in all the parameters of weather, wind, temperature, humidity.”