Two massive brush fires started in the Meadowlands in Secaucus and Kearny on Tuesday, April 19 around 12:30 p.m. and burned for more than three hours.
One fire started in Kearny and eventually became linked with a brush fire that started in a marsh area near Secaucus Road and Penhorn Avenue started in Secaucus.
Firefighters said that they believe the second fire started with a cigarette.
Conditions were especially ripe for fire to spread that day, as the National Weather Service had issued a “red flag warning” for the Tri-State area, a warning to firefighters that conditions are ideal for wild land fire combustion. The wind was rushing at 25 m.p.h. and the air was dry, making it easier for fire to spread.
Almost all of Hudson County fire departments were on the scene including the Secaucus Fire Department, the Jersey City Fire Department, and most of Bergen County fire departments, according to Mayor Michael Gonnelli, who was also there. He said at least 50 firefighters responded.
A brush fire is a fire in an area of shrubs, bushes, or brushes, as opposed to forest fire.
Around 3:30, the fire was under control.
“They’re only putting out hot-spots now,” Gonnelli said. Responders remained on the scene until 5:30 p.m.
One Secaucus volunteer firefighter was taken to Meadowlands Hospital for minor injuries and was released shortly.
According to the 2011 National Fire Incident Reporting System, a website from the U.S. Fire Administration, a department of the Homeland Security, the most common heat source in brush fires is hot ashes or embers.
A brush fire is a fire in an area of shrubs, bushes, or brush, as opposed to forest fire, which takes place in a wooded area.
Train and road delays
The fire affected NJ Transit, because the smoke extended to the Amtrak train tracks and NJ Turnpike. Amtrak trains between Newark Penn Station and New York Penn Station were suspended for two hours around 1 p.m., and still expected delays after the fire was out.
Firefighters shut down two lanes on the NJ Turnpike northbound in order to operate truck hoses from the roadway.
On Wednesday, officials said another red flag warning was in effect due to an extremely dry air mass with minimum relative humidity values of 20 to 30 percent, lack of rain, mild temperatures, and wind gusts up to 20 m.p.h.