2013-04-25 / Front Page

Fire engulfs 5 acres of low brush in Cheesequake

BY THOMAS CASTLES
Staff Writer

OLD BRIDGE — Drivers on the Garden State Parkway were almost close enough to feel the heat as they traveled along a low bridge that crosses Cheesequake State Park during their morning commutes on April 18.

A blaze that engulfed about 5 acres of low brush and light forest could be seen at around 9 a.m. that day, not far off the southbound side of the highway.

Capt. Chris Kuinlan of Old Bridge District 2 Cheesequake Fire Co. said the fire company was dispatched at 9:11 a.m. to tackle the forest fire.

“We used two access points [to snuff it out]” he said. “One from the [southbound shoulder of the] Parkway and one from inside Cheesequake State Park.”

State troopers closed the right lane of the southbound side of the Parkway to allow the firefighters to access the blaze. Traffic was not significantly slowed as a result of the lane closure, the fire captain said.

Kuinlan said easy access to the fire site was impeded by the guardrail along the perimeter of the roadway, but firefighters were able to extinguish the flames quickly.

Old Bridge District 2 Cheesequake Fire Co. arrived on scene at 9:15 a.m., and had the blaze under control within about 45 minutes, he said. The Sayreville Fire Department also responded to the call.

“We have a fire back there [in Cheesequake State Park] every couple of years,” Kuinlan said.

Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry was thankful that nobody was hurt and there was no structural damage as a result of the fire.

“It’s getting to be that time of year again,” he said, referring to springtime brush fires.

Old Bridge District 2 Cheesequake Fire had not determined the cause of what Kuinlan called “a typical brush fire” by April 19, and said the investigation would continue under the authority of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s State Forestry Service.

Division Forest Firewarden Jim Dusha said that there was no determination of cause as of April 19.

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