Forest fire around Burlington County campsite quadruples in size

The fire spread to 450 acres within hours. A campground was evacuated and two buildings remain at risk, officials said.

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TABERNACLE, NJ — A wildfire near a campground in Wharton State Forest spread to 450 acres Friday afternoon, officials said.

The blaze, dubbed the Tea Time Hill Wildfire, was reported late Friday morning in the area of ​​the Batona Campground and Apple Pie Hill in Tabernacle Township. According to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, it has expanded significantly since early afternoon, when it engulfed 100 acres.

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A residential building and the grounds of a hunting club are still at risk. By 3 p.m. on Friday, the fire had been contained to zero percent, the authorities said.

At least one local fire department reported that the smell of smoke could possibly be carried far away.

“Voorhees residents can smell smoke from the wildfire,” the Voorhees Fire Department said Friday afternoon. “As always, if you see a fire, please call 911.”

The campground has been evacuated and the Batona Trail remains closed between Route 532 and Carranza Road. The Tulpehocken is also closed from Apple Pie Hill to Hawkins Bridge.

Roads in Wharton State Forest have been closed. Later Friday, Carranza Road will be closed from the Carranza Memorial to Speedwell Road at Friendship Field.

Officials with the Wildfire Agency advised the public to avoid the area. The agency has ground crews and an observation helicopter on site.

Ninety-nine percent of New Jersey’s wildfires are caused by humans, according to the Forest Fire Service. Climate change has increased the size and frequency of wildfires and will continue to do so, as well as the length of the wildfire season, according to several studies cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Batona Campground is a stop on the 50-mile Batona Trail, which runs through New Jersey’s Pinelands National Reserve. Apple Pie Hill – a popular hiking destination with an observation tower at a high vantage point – is about 2 miles up the trail.

Wharton, New Jersey’s largest state forest, encompasses more than 110,000 acres of pinelands divided among Burlington, Camden and Atlantic counties.

This is a developing story. Check back later for updates.