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N.J. wildfire that burned nearly 4,000 acres 100% contained

Wildfire in Ocean County, New Jersey 75% contained
Wildfire in Ocean County, New Jersey 75% contained 00:50

MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) -- The New Jersey Forest Fire Service said Thursday morning that the Jimmy's Waterhole wildfire in Manchester Township, Ocean County, is 100% contained.

As she watched the smoke from Jimmy's Waterhole fire spread closer to her home Tuesday Night, Elizabeth Casterlin felt a dreading sense of deja vu.

"Going through that again, and here I am getting emotional," Casterlin said. "Talking about a panic attack, I almost had a panic attack."

She's survived two traumatic house fires but she didn't have time to dwell on the past. As flames lit up the night sky, friends helped her evacuate all the dogs she trains and her farm animals.

"We have a very awesome community here," Casterlin said. "Very awesome group of friends and they all came together for us so we're very grateful."

Her home was among 70 in Manchester Township and 100 in Lakehurst that police officers evacuated overnight Wednesday.

The fire broke out along Route 539 and Horicon Avenue and caused several road closures and evacuations. The Forest Fire Service personnel are still working to improve containment lines and say to please stay vigilant when driving through smoke conditions. 

Officials reported earlier 170 buildings on multiple roads in Manchester and Lakehurst were evacuated. All evacuation orders were later lifted and residents were able to return home.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's John Cecil says this fire was among the most intense he's ever seen.

"This fire exhibited extreme fire behavior," Cecil said. "We saw a wall of fire, 200-foot flames, raining fire embers. I don't mean to be dramatic but this was a severe situation."

Dozens of families were impacted and evacuees were asked to gather at Manchester Township High School.

In Lakehurst, it was a stressful night with sudden orders to evacuate the fire. We spoke with one resident who said he had to move quickly.

"My friend comes banging on the door, and he's like, 'there's a fire,'" Lakehurst resident Marco Andell said.

Then he jumped up and ran outside expecting to see his home in flames. Instead, there were fire trucks all over and the air was filled with smoke.

This is how the wildfire in Manchester Township, New Jersey looked around 6 a.m. Wednesday. Chopper 3/CBS News Philadelphia

No one's been injured and no structures have caught fire.

Chopper 3/CBS News Philadelphia

April weather can fuel wildfires - there's not much leaf cover on trees, plus a lot of debris from the fall season. In those conditions, a spark and some breezy weather, can lead to a blaze.

A campfire restriction was in effect Wednesday for all wooded areas covered by the service.

Firefighters are now letting families return to their neighborhood's homes and while Casterlin says she plans to go home, she remains on alert.

"Keep people who you care about close and when you have a gut feeling, act upon it because that's what my gut feeling was last night," Casterlin said.

The Red Cross and local police, fire and EMS are helping residents impacted by the evacuations.

Officials at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst said the fire spread onto a portion of the base but no structures were affected. New Jersey fire officials said the blaze affected a mix of state, federal and private property.

The evacuations started on Division Street in Lakehurst before people on other roads nearby were asked to leave.

The NJFFS and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Fire Department are battling the wildfire.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation though firefighters say 99% of all wildfires are started by humans, whether accidental or intentional.

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