Crews continue to battle wildfire in New Jersey’s Wharton State Forest

Crews in Burlington County, New Jersey are battling a wildfire in Wharton State Forest. 

Officials say the fire, burning since Thursday, is in Tabernacle Township near the Batona Campground and Apple Pie Hill. 

The campground was evacuated and the Batona Trail is closed between Route 532 and Carranza Road, while the Tulpehocken Trail is closed from Apple Pie Hill to Hawkins Bridge. Local Wharton State Forest roads are also closed in the area. Additionally, Carranza Road is closed from the Carranza Memorial to Speedwell Road at Friendship Field.

Tea Hill Wildfire, in Wharton State Forest. Courtesy New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection)

"The campground was actually relatively close probably you know within a mile area not very far away," Tom Gerber, with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, stated.

It’s part of a remote area that hasn’t burned since 1954 and is tough to get to with rough terrain.

"So there’s a lot of real estate out there. It’s old cranberry bogs from 100 years ago, drainages and all that impedes us," Gerber continued.

Dubbed the Tea Tree Hill Wildfire, officials say the fire is impacting about 4,000 acres and is 65 percent contained. 

Adding in the extreme weather conditions and firefighters are exhausted. More than 70 men and women are doing their best with the backfire operation that’s burning fuel to try to contain some of the flames.

Tea Hill Wildfire, in Wharton State Forest. Courtesy New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Chief Bill Donnelly, with the NJ Forest Fire Service, stated, "It’s hot, it’s humid and the pine flies. So the guys are swatting stuff out of their faces, they got swear dripping down, so they’re working really hard and they’re doing a real good job." 

Roads around the area are closed and officials are warning people to stay away. So far, no word yet on how the fire started, but officials gave the biggest warning for everyone to be careful in any wooded area.

Chief George Fedorczyk, with NJ State Park Police, stated, "You’re in a campground - make sure your fire is adequately put out. If it’s smoldering, stay by, dump water on it, whatever it may be. Coals, make sure you’re not putting them in trash cans."