UPDATE: According to the incident commander, as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, February 25th, the fire was 95 percent contained and 103 acres have been lost.
HARDWICK TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) A wildfire that broke out Sunday night in the Delaware Water Gap area and was still burning Monday afternoon is 80% contained.
Fire crews from New Jersey have been fighting to contain the blaze all day. Officials say dry conditions in the air and on the ground allowed the fire to quickly scorch 80 acres of land and contributed to a difficult fight to contain the fire.
“With the lack of rainfall and snow throughout the winter, we’re kind of ahead of schedule for fire season,” said New Jersey Forest Fire Warden, Robert Kerschner.
The map below shows the difference in precipitation for the month of January compared to an average for the month dating back to 1981.
With the wildfire 80% contained, New Jersey Forest Fire Services announced that they will be pulling resources from the fire after battling it for more than 24 hours.
“They’re actually doing shuttle operation,” Kershner explained. “Shuttling crews up to one hill that’s close to the fire.”
New Jersey State Police monitored the situation by air but drivers were the first to notice the fire.
“Motorists along route 80 said they saw smoke coming from on top of the ridge,” said Assistant Division Fire Warden Christoper Franek. “Our units responded quickly because we are in high fire danger in North Jersey.”
More than 50 fire fighters answered the call to help contain the wildfire. Now, officials are calling on the public to be aware of their surroundings including camp fires, cigarettes and smoldering ashes.
Crews will continue to monitor the area closely for the next several days. Officials say the fire will not be considered 100% contained until there is significant rainfall to douse the area.
No injuries or loss of property have been reported. The cause of the 80-acre fire is still under investigation.