Hackensack, NJ Community Message Boards

General Category => Hackensack Discussion => Topic started by: BLeafe on April 11, 2012, 07:28:15 PM

Title: Big fire south of here
Post by: BLeafe on April 11, 2012, 07:28:15 PM
Anybody know what was burning an hour or so ago? I'm guessing Meadowlands brush, but I don't think I've ever seen what looks almost like a mushroom cloud top on a brush fire before.

Title: Re: Big fire south of here
Post by: BLeafe on April 11, 2012, 09:09:05 PM

A second fire was spotted just west of the first one.

Major flameage!

Title: Re: Big fire south of here
Post by: irons35 on April 11, 2012, 10:50:48 PM
meadowlands, been burning since 130.  the area that is on fire has not burned in 5 years, so there is lots of fuel there. 
Title: Re: Big fire south of here
Post by: BLeafe on April 11, 2012, 11:13:09 PM

Update: 15 North Jersey fire departments battle Meadowlands brush fire [video]
Wednesday, April 11, 2012    Last updated: Wednesday April 11, 2012, 9:52 PM
The Record

EAST RUTHERFORD — A wind-whipped brush fire consumed some 60 acres of the Meadowlands northeast of the Izod Center, sending columns of smoke billowing high over the New Jersey Turnpike before the blaze was declared under control Wednesday night.

Firefighters from 15 North Jersey departments used water cannons mounted on fire engines to battle the spreading inferno. One firefighter from Carlstadt suffered minor injuries, authorities said.

The fire was reported around 1:10 p.m. near Rosenthal USA, a company that sells china to hotels and retailers, authorities said.

The fire was raging in an expanse of meadows northeast of Paterson Plank Road and west of the turnpike. Smoke blew across the turnpike’s western spur, which authorities closed for about 45 minutes and reopened at 5:10 p.m., turnpike spokesman Tom Feeney said.

As 6 p.m. approached, Feeney advised motorists to use the turnpike’s eastern spur given the ongoing smoke conditions.

“I thought it was going to be a little fire that would be put out, said Dan Pelchar, 22, a Rosenthal employee. “Instead it kept growing and growing and growing.”

Within 10 minutes, the brush fire had charred acres of land, he said.

At 3:30 p.m., the fire continued to spread and was igniting in pockets throughout the meadow.

“I haven’t seen a brush fire like this in a long time,” said Brian Dowson, 25, an eight-year veteran of the Lodi Volunteer Fire Department

The cause of the blaze wasn’t immediately clear.

Tom Sabia, battalion chief for the Carlstadt Fire Department, said up to 60 acres of meadowlands was ablaze at the fire’s peak, and the wind was “killing us” by helping the fire to spread.

Sabia said firefighters could not attack the flames in the middle of the marshlands because of the dangerous conditions there, were left with no alternative but to let the flames spread to the edge of the site.

“I haven’t seen a fire like this in 10 to 15 years,” Sabia said.

Bill Sheehan, the executive director of the Hackensack Riverkeeper and the president of the Meadowlands Conservation Trust, said that he is not surprised that a fire sparked in the meadowlands.

“A little breeze, heat and friction that is all it takes to start one of these fires,” Sheehan said.

The burning tract was filled with phragmites, also known as the “common reed,” Sheehan said. The perennial reed does not rot fast after its growing season ends each fall. What’s left continues to dry out rather than decay as new growth forces its way through the dead plants. The meadow can become impenetrable with growth after a few seasons.

As long as the fire stay away from homes, businesses and traffic, it will be beneficial to the meadow, Sheehan said. Once the meadow becomes too thick, he said, it becomes a less welcoming habitat.

“It’s not as bad as it appears,” Sheehan said. “Ecologically, it’s a good thing. Within five to six weeks, it will all be green and you won’t know that there was ever a fire out there.”

Several brush fires have broken out in New Jersey in recent days, mostly due to dry conditions and low humidity. Strong winds have also helped some of the fires spread.

The first three months of 2012 were the warmest and the third driest in New Jersey since 1895, when records started being kept, said David Robinson, the state climatologist.

The trend has continued into April and has caused a mild drought, he added. The combination of warm and dry has a huge impact in terms of ramping up fire threats.

“The problem is only compounded in years with dry fuel, warm air, lack of rainfall to moisten the soil, a dry atmosphere and breezy-to-windy conditions, which prompts further drying, … spreading any fires that develop,” Robinson said. “All of this is a toxic mix.”

Staff Photographer Tariq Zehawi and Staff Writers John A. Gavin and Justo Bautista contributed to this article, which includes material from The Associated Press. Email: mcgrathm@northjersey.com and hampton@northjersey.com

Use the link to see other photos and to read the reader comments, some of which are a bit strange.

My favorite line: "Shear stupidity threatens the safety of others."