BERKELEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — A forest fire erupted amid fire weather warnings Thursday near the Jersey Shore, forcing officials to close a school early as plumes of black smoke wafted toward neighborhoods.
Acting assistant division forest fire warden Russ Fenton tells the Asbury Park Press the fire broke out Thursday afternoon in Ocean County near the Berkeley and Beachwood border. It’s not known how many acres have burned.
Toms River Intermediate South school has closed early as a precaution and students were taken to Pine Belt Arena in Toms River. The district announced on its website that all students are safe and will be sent home on their normal bus routes.
Temperatures in the area hovered in the high 50s as crews battled the blaze, according to the National Weather Service. Dry, windy conditions prompted a red flag warning to be issued for the area until at least 8 p.m.
The fire comes as Forest Fire Service crews work to contain a forest fire in the Bevans Wildlife Management Area in southern New Jersey that consumed at least 1,500 acres by Thursday afternoon.