NEW JERSEY – Mid-March through May is peak wildfire season in New Jersey. Nearly all of New Jersey’s wildfires are caused by people, through accidents, carelessness, negligence and even arson, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP).
In 2020 the Forest Fire Service responded to more than 1,000 wildfires, 12 of which were sparked by natural causes, such as lightning. In total, wildfires in New Jersey burned 4,796 acres of land last year. More information about wildfires is available on the new New Jersey Fire Danger Dashboard.
Most wildfires are preventable. Here’s how you can help:
- Don’t discard cigarettes, matches or smoking materials on the ground.
- Obtain required permits for campfires from your nearest Forest Fire Service office.
- Don’t leave fires unattended and be sure to douse them completely, until cold to the touch.
- Keep matches and lighters away from children. Teach youth about fire safety.
- Protect your home and other structures from wildfire by creating Defensible Space. Visit www.njwildfire.org for more.
- Ensure fire trucks can access driveways.
- Report suspicious vehicles and individuals to authorities.
- Use wood stoves and fireplaces carefully, since both can emit embers that spark fires. Fully douse ashes with water before disposal.
During wildfire season, trees and bushes do not yet have full leaves, which allows more sun to reach the forest floor and dry out any fallen leaves and pine needles. The dry underbrush acts as kindling for wildfire growth.
To sign up for wildfire or prescribed burning email and text message alerts, visit www.AlertMeDEP.nj.gov. When in doubt about the source of smoke or if a fire is part of a prescribed burning operation, call 1-877-WARN-DEP (1-877-927-6337) or 911.
To learn more about wildfires in New Jersey, steps to protect property, and other resources, visit www.njwildfire.org.
For current fire danger status or to check for campfire restrictions, visit www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/fire/infotools/conditions-restrictions.html