UPDATE: A New Jersey State Police helicopter has been brought in again Monday to shuttle crews up and down the mountain where they are trying to contain the fire. The official name of the fire is being called “Rock Face Fire,” which officials say is now 30% contained.
DELAWARE WATER GAP, WARREN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Around 50 firefighters are expected to continue operations in the area of the Delaware Gap Monday. They’re working to put a wildfire that began on the New Jersey side of the state line Sunday afternoon.
“We were just driving by and seen it and she said it was a fire and I couldn’t believe it. Like there’s no way there’s a fire over here and over there,” said Aaron Ivins.
This was Aaron Ivins of Bangor’s reaction as he drove by Mount Tammany Monday morning seeing the mountainside in flames. The brush fire started around 2:30 Sunday afternoon and burned well into the night, into Monday.
“We’re in heightened fire danger right now in North Jersey we’re extremely dry for this time of year which is pretty odd for this time of year. Normally we have 3 feet of snow on he ground. The fire due to the conditions we had yesterday grew rapidly,” stated Christopher Franek, Assistant Division Fire Warden New Jersey Forest Fire Service.
Over 70 acres were lost on the popular hiking trail. Air and ground crews battled the flames in treacherous conditions.
“Because of the steepness of slope and it takes about an hour to hike up to the fire. We have to support the firefighters and bring in extra food and water to have them working long durations, 10 to 12 hours out there.” Franek continued.
Those who saw the blaze understand the scale of the destruction.
“I don’t remember any type of big fires like this. The pictures I originally saw were pictures like you see people posting about out west when big brush fires start. So whatever they did, it did help it did knock it down quite a lot,” Ian Gearhart of Jefferson Township told Eyewitness News.
“I’ve been at the top of both sides of the mountain numerous times. I mean this is the first time I’ve seen anything like this,” Samantha Heath from Upper Mount Bethel said.
About 50 firefighters are expected to continue fighting the blaze Monday. Though the fire is burning on the New Jersey side of the mountain, it is dangerously close to the Pennsylvania border.
No injuries have been reported and the fire is under investigation.