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Bass River fire in NJ spreads 5K acres; 50% contained

Crews still battling forest fire in New Jersey
Crews still battling forest fire in New Jersey 02:25

BASS RIVER, N.J. (CBS) -- The Allen Road forest fire that began burning Wednesday night in New Jersey's Bass River State Forest has now grown to 5,000 acres, with 50% of it being contained, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service said.

Officials say dry conditions continue to help fuel the flames, creating a lot of smoke in the area. 

The Timberline Campground has been evacuated, including about 40 seasonal residents. Zero structures are being threatened by the flames, officials said.

Multiple roads have also been closed down due to the wildfire and the NJFFS is asking people to avoid the area.

John Earlin, of the NJFFS, said conditions improved throughout Thursday.

"Crews tirelessly worked throughout the day to strengthen containment lines, firing interior roads and mopping up the exterior of the fire," Earlin said.

Heavy smoke, low visibility on roads near N.J. forest fire 02:56

"We are dealing with woods that actually had four fatalities in 1977 from a wildfire so that's in the back of our heads," he added. 

Earlin expects to be fighting this wildfire for days to come.

"The only way we'll not be out here is if we get significant, significant rainfall," Earlin said. 

The fire service said nearly 70 firefighters are working to contain the spread of the wildfire.

Mandy Somes, a Wading River resident in Burlington County, said the smoke from the fire made it hard to breathe. 

"Usually, you don't worry about it too much because everything gets under control pretty quickly, but when you see the ash coming down like it was today, it's just kind of overwhelming," Some said. 

 Most of her life, Somes lived on Turtle Creek Road near the Pinelands.

New Jersey Forest Fire Service

Wildfires are a part of life, she says, but it wasn't until this year they hit so close to home.

"I never had two come so close though within a month's time," Some said. 

The fire is leading to air quality concerns in Delaware and New Jersey. Part of the Garden State Parkway s closed in both directions due to the smoke.

The extremely dry conditions have also contributed to multiple other wildfires in New Jersey over the past few days. Fire officials said recent prescribed burns are helping control the blaze but, of course, the weather isn't doing any favors. 

"What we expect to see through, with this warm weather and these dry conditions over the next several days, is this fire to move around within that containment area as it continues to burn and consume fuels, we'll see flare-ups, we'll see smoke. We'll see fire behavior that will increase and diminish over time. And that's normal," said Greg McLaughlin, with the New Jersey Fire Service.

Officials said there have been no reported injuries and some of the seasonal residents asked to evacuate have been told it is now safe to try and get back into their homes. 

The fire comes after smoke from the raging Tantallon wildfire burning in Nova Scotia, Canada, as well as another in New Jersey, led to an air quality alert in the region.

CBS News Philadelphia meteorologist Grant Gilmore said the smoke from this fire is visible on satellite.

The NJ Forest Fire Service said there is not a burn ban at the moment but said that could change in a couple of days depending on the weather. They are also reminding everyone to be careful.

The NJFFS says 5 trucks will be out overnight. They plan on ramping up manpower Friday morning. 

No word on what caused the fire. 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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