WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Officials say a fire that burned 3,500 acres in a remote part of New Jersey’s Wharton State Forest was started by a lightning strike.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said Monday that several trees were struck Wednesday night. Investigators believe a pine tree caught fire and the flames spread to nearby trees before the blaze was noticed Thursday.

The agency says the fire is now completely contained and controlled.

Smoke drifted through parts of southern New Jersey while the fire burned. The Ocean County sheriff’s office said it could be smelled 30 miles (48 km) away in Long Beach Island and people reported seeing smoke in Atlantic County as well.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.