Pinelands fires were arson, official says

Scott Wenderoth, of the NJ Forest Fire Service sprays water on a smoldering portion a 375 acre fire in the Winslow Township portion of the Pine Barrens on the afternoon of Friday April 6th.( Ed Hille / Staff Photographer )
Scott Wenderoth, of the NJ Forest Fire Service sprays water on a smoldering portion a 375 acre fire in the Winslow Township portion of the Pine Barrens on the afternoon of Friday April 6th.( Ed Hille / Staff Photographer ) (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)
Posted: April 09, 2012

Evidence collected from two blazes about a mile apart in the Pinelands gives "clear indication" the fires were set, a state fire official said Sunday.

The blazes in the Winslow Wildlife Management Area in Camden County, on the south side of the Atlantic City Expressway, scorched about 400 acres Friday. The fires were still smoldering Sunday but had been contained, authorities said.

No specific cause of the fires had been determined, nor had any suspects been identified.

The fires were set between Thursday evening and Friday morning, said Michael Drake, acting state fire warden for the state Forest Fire Service. He declined to give details about the evidence, which was collected during the blazes and on Saturday.

The fires were considered suspicious because they began so close to each other, officials said.

Drake said a motorist noticed the smaller one, which covered 25 acres, near Piney Hollow Road, and called 911 around 7 a.m. Friday. A state fire official reported the second blaze - which fed on 375 acres between Winslow Road and the expressway - from a fire tower near the wildlife management area around 8:20 a.m., Drake said.

The fires coincided with a red-flag warning from the National Weather Service for much of the region because of high winds, dry ground cover, and low humidity.


Contact Darran Simon at 856-779-3919, dsimon@phillynews.com, or follow @darransimon on Twitter.

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