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Brush Fire Prompts Evacuations In Old Bridge, N.J.

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A massive brush fire near in Old Bridge Township, N.J., threatened homes and forced temporary evacuations Sunday afternoon.

As CBS 2's Jessica Schneider reported Sunday evening, the fire broke out around 8 a.m. By 6:30 p.m., officials said it had been largely contained.

But many homes near Washington Avenue and Joseph Court was ordered Sunday morning "as a precaution." Authorities said no homes have been damaged, and no injuries have been reported.

Fire trucks lined the edge of Cheesequake State Park, where the brush fire burned deep in the woods.

But as it crept toward the homes on the streets around the park, people expressed angst about the flames as they prepared to depart.

"There was a fire over by (the) Central Park (neighborhood of Old Bridge) and supposedly, it spread all the through the woods over here, so they said pack a bag in case you need to evacuate," one woman, Melissa, told 1010 WINS' Gary Baumgarten.

"Very concerned – just bought (my home) a couple of years ago," another resident told Schneider. "You've just got to wait and see; keep your fingers crossed. What are you going to do?"

The homeowner said things became really unnerving this afternoon, when the fire seemed to be closing in on the neighborhood.

"It was scary at one point," the resident said. "The flames behind me, you were able to see them over the top of the trees there; then the fire guys got them under control pretty well."

Cheesequake State Park was also evacuated and closed due to the growing fire, while some nearby roadways were also closed.

Dozens of firefighters from throughout Monmouth and Middlesex counties were dispatched to battle the blaze.

The National Weather Service had issued a red-flag warning about wildfires due to dry conditions and high winds, according to the Star-Ledger.

Fire officials said the gusting winds made battling the blaze tough. All across New York and New Jersey, winds whipped with speeds averaging 25 to 35 miles per hour -- with some gusts close to 50.

The high winds could also be to blame for a large sign that fell from a discount store in Brooklyn Sunday afternoon, injuring two people and crushing a BMW. The winds also took down a tree in Queens, and made for a precarious scene in Midtown Manhattan, where wires snapped off a building on west 57th Street.

Two brush fires also broke out in Suffolk County on Long Island Sunday. The winds made for difficulty for firefighters battling a blaze in Brentwood, and one firefighter was hospitalized with minor injuries.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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