Allen Road Fire: Firefighters successfully contain NJ wildfire that torched thousands of acres

A massive wildfire in New Jersey consumed thousands of acres of forest and forced dozens of people to leave their homes as firefighters worked to extinguish the flames. 

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service said the Bass River State Forest wildfire is 100% contained as it scorched 5,475 acres. 

The blaze was first detected around 5 p.m. Wednesday by a state-owned fire tower off Allen Road in Tuckerton, New Jersey. From there, officials say it spread from tree top-to-tree top. 

In the 24 hours since the fire started, dozens of firefighters from nearby departments in Ocean and Burlington counties have responded and used ‘backfiring’ operations to try to contain the flames.

Officials say, in total, six structures were threatened during the course of the fire, and 40 people were evacuated from Timberline Campground. No injuries were reported.

Officials say they expect the fire to burn for days, and they were particularly concerned about the overstock of so-called ‘fire fuel’ contained in the woods paired with the dry conditions that could allow the wildfire to continue to rage. 

"These woods are very overstocked with very high, dense fuel - trees and pine needles - it leads the way to extreme fire behavior," New Jersey Forest Fire Service Warden Trevor Raynor said. 

To combat this problem, officials said firefighters have made notoriously dry part of the woods in the direct path of the fire wet to limit burnable items.

Warmer temperatures and changing winds on Friday pushed down smoke and caused a massive stretch of the Garden State Parkway to closed due to poor visibility. 

"We saw a little bit of a wind-shift overnight and then this morning woke up to essentially a temperature inversion which pushed a lot of the smoke down," a fire official said.

A 20-mile stretch of the Parkway from exits 38 to 63 were closed in both directions early Friday morning. Both sides of the highway reopened to traffic hours later when visibility improved.

Allen and Oswego roads the only roadway that remains closed to motorists to allow firefighters to continue to try to contain the blaze. Batona Trail in Bass River State Forest is also still closed.

Officials warn residents that smoke may be visible for an extended period of time, and urge motorists to be cautious.

The cause of the wildfire is under investigation.