A small fire began Saturday afternoon in the Pine Barrens area of the Penn State Forest in Southern New Jersey. In less than two days, the Spring Hill Fire proceeded to burn over 11,000 acres. By 8am EDT Monday morning, crews reported they had the fire contained. Firefighters will remain on scene to monitor the fire since some areas are still burning. Full fire containment means the fire resources no longer believe the fire will grow or move out of the area it already scorched; however, a contained fire is not necessarily ‘out’. Additionally, nearby towns will likely still see, and possibly smell, smoke from the fire. While the cause of the blaze has not been confirmed, it is believed to have been human-caused. In addition to the fire occurring in an area known for illegal bonfires, the fire burned in an area that had no lightning strikes reported, has no power lines nearby, and was not conducting any prescribed or planned.
The fire is burning in an area of the Penn State Forest known as the Pine Barrens. While forest fires are relatively common for this region, this is the largest fire seen in several years. The Pine Barren Plains are home to a dwarf forest of trees that only grow to approximately 4 ft, a low canopy even when mature. The Plains are also called the Pine Plains or the Pygmy Forest and amount to the largest acreage in the world of its type, including portions in and around Penn State Forest. While wildfires are a natural part of keeping certain ecosystems in balance, thankfully this time no homes were threatened or damaged.
Pine Barrens Forest image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penn_State_Forest / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Free_Art_License_1.3