Firefighter Critical as Crews Battle NJ Brush Fire

Smoke from NJ brush fire
Smoke billows from a brush fire in Lakewood, N.J., that shut down the Garden State Parkway on Sunday, March 14, 2021. (Kevin Shea/NJ Advance Media via AP)

LAKEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Weather conditions on Monday remained favorable for wildfires in New Jersey as state Forest Fire Service crews continued working to suppress a brush fire that consumed about 170 acres.

The blaze broke out Sunday in Lakewood, near the Brick Township border.

The origin has been identified and the cause is under investigation, the state forest fire service said, but officials did not elaborate. The agency said a prescribed burn was not responsible.

Firefighters from neighboring communities were called to the scene and a helicopter was seen dumping water on the burning brush, which was fueled by strong wind gusts.

Bricktown residents who were evacuated began returning home at 7:00 p.m. and a section of the Garden State Parkway that was closed reopened.

Two commercial buildings were destroyed and dozens of homes or sheds sustained some damage, officials said

A forest fire service firefighter was in critical condition. Officials did not release details about the extent of the injury.

The National Weather Service in Mount Holly on Monday placed most of the state under a fire warning with humidity levels recorded at about 20% in the Lakewood area and winds gusting near 40 miles per hour (64 kph), officials said.

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