GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, NJ – Residents across Atlantic County today are reporting a ‘very strong smell of smoke’ and are calling the Galloway Township Police Department to find out what it is.
It turns out nothing in the area is on fire, but what residents are seeing and smelling is smoke and ash from a fire 31 miles west of the county.
Over 2,100 acres of woodlands are burning out of control in Wharton State Forest, according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.
“Our dispatch center has been receiving calls for a “very strong smell of smoke” in different sections of town. At least one caller advised that they believed they saw ash on their vehicle as well,” the Galloway Police Department reported. “Please know that the odor is present throughout the town and appears to be traveling to our town from the wildfire that firefighters are currently battling in Wharton State Forest.”
The Washington Township fire is only about 20% contained at this time as firefighters continue to try to stop it from spreading. Route 206 and Route 542 have been closed to traffic in the area.
“The New Jersey Forest Fire Service continues to fight a wildfire fueled by dry and breezy conditions in Wharton State Forest – Washington, Shamong, Hammonton & Mullica Townships – which has reached 2,100 acres in size and is 20% contained,” the NJ FFS reported.
Multiple state parks and businesses are closed today as a result of the fire.
“Batsto Village and all associated hiking and mountain bike trails are closed to visitors. The Mullica River Campground, Mullica River Trail and boat launches along the Mullica River are closed from the Atsion Recreation Area to Batsto Village. These closures will remain in effect until further notice. Pinelands Adventures has suspended kayak and canoe trips. The Paradise Lakes Campground has been evacuated,” NJ FFS said this morning. “Six structures are threatened in the Paradise Lakes Campground. Structure protection is in place at Batsto Village and Paradise Lake Campground provided by local volunteer fire departments from Atlantic, Burlington and Ocean counties, we thank them for their assistance.”
There are no reported injuries.