HARDWICK TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) – Firefighters from federal and New Jersey agencies were battling a forest fire that broke out in a popular hiking area near the Pennsylvania border. The fire that broke out Sunday afternoon was split between Worthington State Forest and the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, news outlets reported.
A Facebook post from a nearby fire department in Pennsylvania indicated the fire had grown to 70 acres by Sunday night.
A New Jersey State Forest Fire Service helicopter dropped water on the fire, but National Park Service spokeswoman Kathleen Sandt told the New Jersey Herald that the aircraft had to stop operating after sundown for safety reasons.
Volunteer firefighters were filling up backpack tanks of water and carrying them to the top of the 1,526-foot Mount Tammany, Sandt said.
Incident Commander Eric Weber told WFMZ-TV that the ground crews operating at night were contending with difficult terrain.
“It’s pretty steep and rugged,” Weber said. “It’s probably the steepest terrain in the entire State of New Jersey.”
The crews were using an existing trail as a fire break, Weber told the station.
Pictures and video on social media showed a wall of flames not far from Interstate 80, which winds through the water gap and was backed up in both directions.
The fire broke out on a sunny February day that saw temperatures in the mid-50s, news outlets reported. The cause of the fire wasn’t clear Sunday night.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.