Photo provided by Adam Polinger shows a wildfire Feb. 23, 2020, near the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area near Hardwick Township.
A forest fire burning in popular New Jersey hiking area that contains a portion of the Appalachian Trail was nearly contained by Tuesday morning, officials said. The fire began off the red dot trail on Mount Tammany in Worthington State Forest and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area on the New Jersey- Pennsylvania line. Incident Commander Eric Weber described the terrain where the fire is burning as “probably the steepest terrain in the entire state of New Jersey,” which slowed efforts to extinguish the fire somewhat.
About 50 firefighters from the forest fire service and the National Park Service responded, creating containment lines to keep the fire in check. Fire officials estimate that about 80 acres of forest burned, and no people or homes were impacted. Seventy-eight of the 80 burned acres were in the national recreation area, and most of the trees that burned were already dying due to gypsy moth infestation, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson said. Healthy trees were not impacted.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, and it is not expected to be fully extinguished until Wednesday when rain is forecasted to roll through the area. Wildfires in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are not common during this time of year because there’s usually snow cover, but this fire broke out on a day with above-average temperatures.
While two popular hiking trails were closed by the fire and remain so, the Appalachian Trail is open.