WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Firefighters have made substantial progress in containing and extinguishing the Mullica River Fire that's currently burning in the Wharton State Forest.
As of Tuesday morning, the Mullica River Fire has so far scorched about 13,500 acres and is currently 85% contained.
The fire has exploded in size since first igniting in the state forest on June 19 and is now the largest fire to burn in New Jersey since a wildfire scorched more than 3,000 acres of land in the same state forest in 2007.
Because of the progress that has been made in containing the blaze, roads that had previously been closed were reopened to traffic by late Tuesday morning.
Those roads include:
- Route 206: Reopened at 11 a.m.
- Route 542: Reopened at 10 a.m.
Even though roads have been reopened, recreational areas remain closed.
Batsto Village, Atsion Recreation Area and other associated hiking and mountain bike trails will stay closed, as well as the Mullica River Campground and Lower Forge Campground, according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.
Also, fire officials say kayak and canoe launches along the Mullica River from the Atsion Recreation Area to Batsto Village will remain off-limits to visitors for the foreseeable future.
FOX 29 Philadelphia reports that while an exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined, natural causes have been ruled out.
Shawn LaTourette, the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said fires like the one that's currently burning are "avoidable" if everyone "follows the rules."
Fire officials are warning drivers to remain cautious of smoke in the area and to be aware of firefighters and fire vehicles working on local roads.
The smoke impact will remain elevated into the evening hours, officials said.
There are currently 89 large wildfires burning across the country that have so far burned more than 2.3 million acres of land.
Among those are the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fire, which are currently burning in New Mexico.
That fire, as well as the Black Fire, are among the state's largest wildfires ever recorded.