Brush Fire in Mullica Twp. causes heavy smoke conditions -

Brush Fire in Mullica Twp. causes heavy smoke conditions

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Around 1 o'clock Friday afternoon, Mullica Township fire fighters responded to 9-1-1 calls about heavy smoke and fire near residential homes, around the Mullica River.

With low humidity and warm temperatures, Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties were issued a 'very high' fire danger on Friday.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service was called in to handle the blaze and said they weren't able to get to the fire with their trucks, so they flew planes over the fire and tried dumping water from above.

Shawn Judy, of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, said, "It's approximately 5 acres.  It's in a remote island."

Randy Ficken, an Assistant Chief of the Sweetwater Volunteer Fire Company, said, "They actually flew in a state airplane.  They made two drops on it and that didn't help out too much so then they came along and kind of back-fired it, I guess, to contain it more, and then it burned itself back down."

Residents that live nearby say embers were flying across Mullica River and onto properties on McCormick Avenue, but that local fire departments were standing by to put out any flames that posed a threat to their homes.

Gary Pieper, a Captain with the Sweetwater Vol. Fire Company, explained, "Even though there is a buffer of water between the homes and the actual fire, you don't know what's going to happen.  It could jump over if it catches on really big."

Pamela Simmons, a Mullica resident, agreed with Captain Pieper by saying, "I think the security knowing that the firemen were here and the tanks were all along the avenue - that gave a security that I think calmed us down."

Fire officials say they were able to contain the fire using controlled burns and that no one was injured.

"They are going to monitor it throughout the night and keep an eye on any flare-ups or anything like that," said Ficken.

There were no evacuations and the brush fire posed no threat to residents.

Police recommend residents keep their windows and doors closed to prevent the smoke from entering their homes.

Officials say the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

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