Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Wildfire goes wild again - further north of Route 72 -- massive smoke problem


Wednesday, May 16, 2007: Fishing is tough with winds to 40 mph along the beach and across the bay.

2 p.m. – Winds have gone gonzo with the wildfire following in its footsteps. No sooner had things returned to relative normalcy than the fire fully exploded, mainly north of Route 72. The evacuations have started again. All of Fawn Lakes and many sections of Ocean Acres are being cleared of humans.

The fire itself has gotten huge again, burning much hotter then yesterday.

Yes, fires vary in heat. Yesterday the flames were speeding through the underbrush, the forest litter. It was moving too fast to burn hot. Trees were not ignited in many areas. That fire barely blackened where it burnt. The significance of that is becoming all too apparent today. The so-called fuel – underbrush and pine needle/leaf litter in the case of the Pines – did not fully burn. Now this re-ignition is tapping into unburned woods and also the existing fuel. Today the fire is burning very hot. Entire trees are burning – fanned by 40 mph winds. What’s more, the hotspots – areas with loads of fuel – are acting as spark bombs, throwing out ember easily capable of igniting new fires after being carried by the wind.

A fellow I know at Pinewood Estates lost his home – all he owned. I sure hope folks rally to help those who returned back to Brighton at Barnegat and Pinewood Estates to find homes damaged or gone.

Currently, firefighters and resident s alike are looking to the skies as thunderstorms are on the way. The problem is the fierce winds that will precede the approaching front. The rain may have only burnt-out ruins to douse.

This rates as the worst Ocean County wildfire I’ve seen since kid times, back in the 1960s, when nearly the entire Pine Barrens burnt. Obviously the most tragic wildfire occurred on July 22, 1977, when four volunteer firefighters from the Eagleswood Fire Company died in a huge wildfire that burnt so hot it melted the tires and even metal parts of firefighting vehicles trapped in the inferno.

It is very hard in the face of the damage being done to people as this blaze carries on to look on the science side. Fires like this are what keeps the pines in the Pinelands. The Pinelands cannot survive without these blazes to knock down the growth of deciduous trees (including scrub oaks) and to disperse the seeds from pinecones. Still, this wildfire couldn’t come at a worst time for the likes for nesting birds (tending to eggs or hatchlings) and treefrogs (gathering for mating season).

(Crackers, if you’re reading this site, please give me a call – 494-9278.)

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