Crews fight Fla., Minn., N.J. wildfires

TRENTON, N.J., April 10 (UPI) -- Firefighters in various parts of the United States said they were battling wildfires Tuesday.

Smoke from Florida wildfires blanketed part of the state's northeast, with no rain predicted to help dry conditions, officials said.


Firefighters were trying to contain six of 20 wildfires in northeast Florida. The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union reported. A lightning strike caused the biggest fire, which has burned nearly 12,000 acres of mostly forest at the Columbia-Baker county line, the report said. That fire had been 30 percent contained, but officials said heavy smoke drifted into the Jacksonville area.

State officials in Minnesota said a wildfire has burned 1,600 acres and destroyed a home in the northern part of the state. National Guard troops fought the fire along with state Department of Natural Resources crews, WCCO-TV, Minneapolis reported.

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The fire started south of Nimrod in Wadena County Sunday, and many homes have been evacuated, the report said. However, officials say the fire is about 80 percent contained.

In New Jersey, state and Burlington County firefighters were trying to contain a wildfire in a rural area, but dry conditions and winds had spread the flames to 1,000 acres in Tabernacle and Woodland Townships.


Dry conditions and low humidity have created a high danger for wildfires, especially in wooded areas, a New Jersey state official warned.

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Commissioner Bob Martin of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said the state is using more than a dozen fire trucks along with bulldozers, helicopters and air tankers to control a fire in the Pinelands National Reserve, Environment News Service reported Tuesday.

"Our crews are working very hard to contain and extinguish this fire, and to insure that area residents are protected," Martin said.

The forests are surrounded by housing developments, commercial property and key transportation corridors.

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A smaller fire broke out at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst located southeast of Trenton. The fire was reported 80 percent controlled by Monday evening.

Since Jan. 1 there have been 472 forest fires in New Jersey compared to 214 during the same period last year, the state Department of Environmental Protection said.

In New York, a large brush fire broke out at the site of a former Staten Island landfill, forcing cancellation of a planned protest, the Staten Island Advance reported.

In Milford, Conn., a brush fire Monday evening disrupted commuter rail and Amtrak and shut down exit ramps on I-95, authorities said.


The New Haven (Conn.) Register reported smoke could be seen 50 miles away from the fire near the eastern tip Long Island.

The blaze, which began after 6 p.m., was under control by 9:20 p.m., a fire official said.

Metro North suspended service in both directions on the New Haven line, and Amtrak service was disrupted after 9 p.m., then delayed.

The entire state of Connecticut was under a red-flag warning because of dry and windy conditions.

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