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Officials: Crews Continue To Battle South Jersey Forest Fires, No Threat To Homes

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By Robin Rieger

BARNEGAT Twp., N.J. (CBS) – Smoke continues to billow in the air over Barnegat Township where a wildfire near Barnegat Blvd gets doused with water from helicopters. Officials say it is no longer a threat to homes.

In Tabernacle and Woodland Townships, crews were seen continuing to soak hot spots as Eyewitness News was granted a ride-along through the charred landscape with section fire warden Sam Moore.

The fire that started in Tabernacle is now 100% contained, but not yet under control. The fire, initially declared ‘suspicious,’ remains under investigation.

“Every little spark or ember across our control line could start a fire,” said Moore.

Moore says acres of trees devastated by the gypsy moth caterpillar provided plenty of fuel for the fire.

“The caterpillars eat all the leaves off the trees, it defoliates it and kills it,” he said.

The biggest continued threats, according to Moore, are low humidity and lack of rain.

“Everyday that continues, its going to get dryer and dryer and the forest is going to continue to burn.”

That’s why Len Harts job is so important.

His eyes scan the tops of trees from the 50-foot tall Apple Pie Hill Fire Tower. It’s on the highest ground in South Jersey, Moore says it stands about 205-feet above sea level

“I’m just looking for smoke. We’re just looking for a little puff in the tree line,” said Hart, who works part-time and does 10-hour shifts.

When he spots any smoke, he calls another tower and with their own coordinates they pinpoint the fires location and send in the fire crews.

“They’re a crucial part of our organization. Without them, fires would get much bigger,” said Moore.

Officials are asking the public to remain vigilant remind people in affected areas that if you see or smell smoke, call 911 immediately.

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