Forest fire burns 100 acres in the Pinelands The blaze ravaged parts of the Wharton State Forest. No injuries or property damage were reported, officials said.

Posted: August 26, 2008

A forest fire burned through more than 100 acres in a remote corner of Wharton State Forest in the Pinelands yesterday, and fire officials said it could continue burning for several more days.

The blaze was not extinguished as of last night, but authorities said they had about 50 percent of it under control.

The fire started yesterday morning in Waterford Township, Camden County. The area is not near any houses, and no injuries or property damage was reported. No evacuations were needed.

"Under bad conditions it could have spread, but the wind has been steady and hasn't picked up much," said Maris Gabliks, warden for the state Forest Fire Service. "We were fortunate."

The fire was reported around 8:15 a.m. when several people saw smoke, Gabliks said. The area where it started is a few miles west of Route 206.

The Forest Fire Service was on scene soon afterward, surrounding the flames with 50 firefighters and dropping water from two helicopters.

By mid-afternoon, much of the fire had burned into a swampy area in Cedar Forest, where the terrain is boggy and not stable enough to support fire vehicles, Gabliks said. The fire could burn for another day or so, he said, but officials don't expect the flames to spread much farther.

Authorities still are investigating the cause of the fire.

There have been 973 forest fires statewide this year, according to the Forest Fire Service, and 1,057 acres have burned.

In May 2007, a flare dropped from a fighter jet at the National Guard's Warren Grove Gunnery Range sparked a massive fire that destroyed more than 17,000 acres of the Pinelands. Thousands were evacuated from their homes, and buildings and houses in several communities were damaged.

Contact staff writer Allison Steele at 856-779-3838 or asteele@phillynews.com.

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