BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Montclair’s Code Enforcement Supervisor and firefighter Mike Reed and his son, Noah, were on the scene over the weekend helping out fire departments from Burlington and Ocean counties battle a massive wildfire.
The fire began Saturday, March 30, in Penn State Forest in Woodland Township, Burlington County, and raged overnight. The effects of the fire were felt in our area, with Montclair residents reporting the smell of the fire consuming the Pinelands.
Firefighters were able to fully contain the blaze by Monday, April 1, state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced, though not before it consumed 11,638 acres of land in the New Jersey Pinelands.
High winds are blamed on the spread of the fire, according to the DEP.
Reed, a former fire battalion chief in the Newark Fire Department in addition to his work for Montclair, works with the U.S. Forest Service, as does his son. The elder Reed also spent two weeks in late July and early August last year helping battle forest fires in Oregon.
He gets called out regularly to all parts of the country to assist with wildfire containment, said Katya Wowk, Montclair Communications Director.
“We are grateful for the swift response of the brave men and women who have been working tirelessly overnight to contain the fire to prevent injury and loss of life for our residents,” wrote Gov. Phil Murphy in a statement issued Sunday.
There were no injuries, property damage or evacuations as a result of the fire, one of the largest in recent New Jersey history.
The cause of the fire was still under investigation at press time. Fire officials said they have ruled out prescribed burning, power lines and lightning as causes, but seek the public’s help in providing information about the fire.