Please don’t start wildfire

The Wharton State Forest fire, which started as a small fire Sunday morning, is estimated to have destroyed 15,000 acres before it is fully extinguished, making it the largest wildfire in New Jersey in the past 15 years.

As crews continued to work Tuesday to fully extinguish the fire, smoke spread over some regions of the state, causing hazy conditions and some air quality issues.

This shouldn’t have happened, according to Shawn LaTourette, the commissioner for the Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

He said most wildfires are caused by carelessness and “it’s important to recognize that because it empowers us to avoid such circumstances.”

Illegal campfire suspected

During an update on Tuesday about the wildfire, New Jersey Forest Fire Department Chief Greg McLaughlin said in all likelihood an illegal, unattended makeshift campfire was the likely cause of the blaze.

In New Jersey, you need a permit to camp in a designated campground in a state forest, and your permit serves as a campfire permit, but only within that specific area.

camping tent

(Getty Stock)

“I don’t think people are ill willed in general,” LaTourette said. “I don’t think anyone would want to see thousands of acres of our Pinelands go up in smoke, but all our actions have consequences. ”

Be careful in nature

“We need to be really serious about our stewardship of the natural environment, and that includes making sure we avoid the risk of wildfires,” LaTourette said.

Because pitching a tent and lighting a campfire outside of a designated campground is against the law, he noted that “illegal campfires, campfires that aren’t fully extinguished, remain a major risk.”

He said we all need to make sure we look out for each other in New Jersey, “by making sure we follow the rules and avoiding the risk of wildfire, it’s serious, it’s not a Smoky Bear cartoon, it’s real.” “

Wildfire in Wharton State Forest 06/19/22

Wildfire in Wharton State Forest 6/19/22 (6 ABC Action News)

The investigation into the wildfire outbreak is ongoing, and state officials have not ruled out possible criminal charges being filed once the investigation is complete.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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These are the best hiking areas in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn’t have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible hiking trails, waterfalls and lakes.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to New Jersey’s hidden gems, there are many options for a great hike. Hiking is a great way to spend time outside and enjoy nature, and it’s also a great workout.

Before you hit the trails and explore some of our listeners’ suggestions, I have some hiking etiquette tips from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and meet an uphill hiker, step aside and give the uphill hiker room. A hiker going uphill has the right-of-way unless stopping to catch his breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side trails unless they are marked as an official trail, stay away from them. If you leave the trail, you can harm the ecosystems surrounding the trail, the plants and wildlife that live there.

You also don’t want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and keep hiking.

Cyclists should give way to hikers and horses. Hikers should also give way to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you’ll encounter on New Jersey’s trails.

If you decide to take your dog with you on your hike, be sure to keep them on a leash and ensure all pet waste is removed.

Finally, keep the weather in mind, if the trail is too muddy it’s probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions for the best hiking areas in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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15 Sensational Attractions in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park

From cruises to boardwalk dining and lots of water fun, Seaside Heights and neighboring Seaside Park have proven to be a family-friendly spot for all ages.

Along the way, tragic disasters struck the Seaside Heights Boardwalk and Casino Pier — including fire, Superstorm Sandy, and another fire. Both have proven their resilience through conversions and extensions.

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