Wharton State Forest wildfire: Inside grueling conditions firefighters face in extreme heat fighting fire

The wildfire in Wharton State Forest has been burning for three days and the command center is where firefighters come to get some rest after a long shift. It’s been a really tough fight, not just against the flames, but the intense heat.

Firefighter John Horn stated, "It’s hot. It’s grueling."

Horn has been a volunteer firefighter since he was 18, but runs in the brutal heat are tougher than usual. "Dragging hoses through the woods and gotta wear all our PPE. Helmets, gloves. So, we’re kinda covered all day long. Until the weather breaks, we’re in it."

He and the other guys are certainly in it, because the wildfires in the Burlington County forest are still raging and might be for a couple more days.


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

Crews are battling a wildfire in Wharton State Forest in Tabernacle Township, New Jersey.

With all the gear they have to wear, the firefighters need to take plenty of breaks back at the command center so they don’t wear out.

Chief Bill Donnelly, with the NJ Forest Fire Service, said, "You know, you look at wild land firefighting, is one of the hardest jobs in the world, so unless you’ve experienced it, you probably never will know what it’s about."

Firefighter in some much-deserved downtime after fighting Tea Hill Wildfire, in Wharton State Forest.

The chief says the work is labor-intensive and the extreme heat and humidity in the Pine Barrens makes it that much more difficult. "And it’s just hot grueling work. They got sweat in their eyes. Maybe they’re wearing safety glasses, goggles. It depends where they’re at back there working, but it’s definitely hard work."

One firefighter did suffer a minor facial injury, but no other injuries, either to firefighters or residents, have been reported. No details have been released regarding how the fire started. Officials want to remind everyone to always use caution whenever lighting a fire in any wooded area.