Forest fire burns thousands of acres in New Jersey Pinelands

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Authorities say fire whipped by high winds has spread over thousands of acres of state land in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, a forested area of coastal plain that stretches more than 1 million acres.

State environmental protection department officials say the blaze was reported Saturday afternoon in Penn State Forest in Woodland Township.

Department spokesman Larry Hajna (HAY-nah) said Sunday afternoon the blaze had grown to 10,000 acres (40 sq. kilometers) with about 75 percent containment. Officials said plumes of smoke were visible from as far as Freehold, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) away.

Hajna says a portion of Route 72, the main road across the Pinelands, has been closed. No homes or businesses are endangered and no injuries or mandatory evacuations have been reported. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.Q