Tuesday, February 20, 2024

High Forest Fire Dangers Persist

Bob Wolff holds gift from a young admirer of his job. Photo by D.L. Dunn, 2022

This compilation of texts was provided by Bob Wolff, former State Forest Firefighter and frequent staffer these days at Catfish Fire Tower in Hardwick.

“2022 was a very busy year for NJ Forest Fire Service. Fire Towers were staffed February to May, June to September and November. They responded to over 1,100 wildfires in New Jersey that burned nearly 12,664 acres.

They also responded to over 600 other types of incidents. NJ wildland engines responded to the following states, PA, OH, MT, TX, FL and Alabama. Firefighters also responded to ID and Alaska and in Puerto Rico with hurricane recovery.

Currently firefighters are taking training to prepare for the 2023 forest fire season.

Repairs and new paint applied to Culvers and Catfish fire towers last year.

The local forest fire crew will be hosting a National Eastern Region conference for the Forest Fire Lookout Association on August 11 – 13. Meetings, lookout reports and exhibits will be at Forest Fire Headquarters 240 Main St, Route 206, Andover. Tower tours will be highlight of conference.

For your info there were five wildfires that burned 1.25 acres last year in Hardwick alone. Over 15,000 acres burned statewide.

They celebrated Catfish Fire Tower centennial anniversary last year and will celebrate Budd Lake Fire Tower 100th this year. Culvers and Catfish towers greeted thousands of visitors hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

Wolff said the Fire Towers are staffed due to wildfires and prescribed burning in progress. Part of the problem is the State’s reassigning of staff for fire calls, in that trained personnel could be two hours away for forest fires.

It’s very important to be careful with open flames outdoors and mix ashes with water before disposing, said Wolff.

Fire danger is high because of the drier weather, less snow cover and wind gusts. For example, wind gusts have been as high as 35 miles per hour.”

Desiree Dunn
Desi L. Dunn, Managing Editor
Managing Editor at Desiree L. Dunn, LLC

Born & educated in NY with an Environmental Science degree from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Desi's family resides in Hardwick with a young teen and several spoiled pets. Considering northwest Jersey to be a true gem, her commitment to the people and environs is exemplified by the many different jobs she's had - municipal & county official, election clerk, open space plan writer, newspaper & radio journalist, grant writer, events coordinator and farm market manager as well as retail, waitressing, archaeological digger and once for a short while in a very huge warehouse.

Her favorite was as a reporter for many years with the Recorder newspapers, Blairstown Press, Paulinskill Chronicle, Gannett publications plus WNTI Public Radio producing public affairs and human interest stories on-air.

She often has her camera ready to capture interesting people and events. She's thrilled to now serve as RVE's Managing Editor, helping fellow writers hone their skills and show you the issues as well as treasures that exist in North Warren, through their eyes.