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Firefighters battle to contain 2,500-acre forest fire in New Jersey

Firefighters are working to contain a 2,500-acre forest fire that broke out just off a major highway in central New Jersey’s Manchester Township on Tuesday evening.

As of 1:30 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, the blaze — which authorities are calling the Jimmy’s Waterhole Fire — was only 10 percent contained, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service said on Twitter.

A mandatory evacuation was announced in Manchester, where residents were relocated to the Manchester Township High School until further notice. Evacuees were being supported by the American Red Cross, Manchester Township EMS, Manchester Police Department and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office.

The massive blaze reached parts of Lakehurst Township shortly after and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office sent out an email alert saying: “All residents between Division Street and Myrtle (Street in Lakehurst) are to evacuate immediately due to a brush fire.” In total, 170 structures were evacuated in Manchester and Lakehurst townships.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, authorities said.

Last year, the Mullica River Fire grew to at least 13,500 acres before it was contained. It was the state’s largest fire since 2007.

This year’s fast-moving fire prompted a wave of road closures: Route 539, Route 70, Horicon Avenue, Beckerville East Road and Beckerville West Road are closed in the area, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service said.

The state agency is working alongside the fire department of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, an Air Force base in Burlington County, N.J.


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