A fire broke out late Friday morning in Shamong inside Wharton State Forest, according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, and has already burned 50 acres.

Brian Corvinus of the NJ Forest Fire Service is surrounded by Ocean County officials at a press conference
Brian Corvinus of the NJ Forest Fire Service is surrounded by Ocean County officials at a press conference (CBS Philly)

An air tanker has already made one pass at the Wharton State Forest blaze, off Stokes Road near an old railroad line. One NJFFS observer noted that with less wind today the fire is not moving very quickly.

Brian Corvinus, section forest fire warden with the New Jersey Forest Fire Services, told a press conference that they "have a few ideas" as to the cause of yesterday's Ocean County fires. He warned that there may be additional smoke in the area as crews burn out the fires.

The earlier "Continental" fire, the first large fire that broke out in Berkeley near Continental Avenue was declared to be 100 percent contained late Thursday night by fire officials including the Ocean County Fire Marshall and the NJFFS after burning through 307 acres.

The Crossroads fire has burned 219 acres and moving towards a swampy area where there are no structures.Berkeley Police allowed all residents evacuated from 621 homes back into their homes late Thursday night.

The Toms River Intermediate South school,which was evacuated as a precaution on Thursday, will be open as usual on Friday.

While the flames today are not expected to spread beyond the areas burned yesterday,  clouds of smoke will be visible again as firefighters on the ground and in the air continue their efforts to bring the fire under control. “Everything will be back to normal,Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy told the Asbury Park Press.

“It was, a team effort and coordinated very well.”

His office will be working to determine a cause for the fire.

Equipment from Seaside Heights responds to Beachwood forest fire
Equipment from Seaside Heights responds to Beachwood forest fire (Jessica Bonelli, Riverside Signal)

Corvinus tells NJ.com there were no firefighters injured in Thursday's fires. “It was a very successful day for us as far as fire suppression,” he said.

There were several other fires that broke out in Ocean County including Lacey and Manchester on Thursday that burned into the night and all are under control. Greg McLaughlin, division warden with the state Forest Fire Service, said early Friday that more than a half dozen fires around the state -- three of them involving large amounts of land -- burned into the night.

"April is fire month in New Jersey, and the conditions today were appropriate for a fast spreading wildfire," McLaughlin said.

Firefighters are also at another large fire that broke out in Gloucester County that has burned 569 acres along Salem Avenue in Franklin Township.  A fire that has burned more than 1,500 acres in Downe Township in Cumberland County since Wednesday was declared under control Friday morning.
Conditions remain favorable for the development of still more fires on Friday. Winds could gust in the afternoon although showers are expected to develop in the afternoon which meteorologist Alan Kasper expects to leave at least a half-inch of rain which should help lower the threat of more fires.  The weekend, however, will be sunny and windy again.

Ilya Hemlin, Rosetta Key and the Associated Press contributed to this report


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