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June 02, 2023

Garden State Parkway reopens to traffic after closing due to wildfire smoke

Smoke from the Bass River State Forrest fire is no longer limiting visibility for drivers

Transportation Traffic
Garden State Parkway closed Provided Image/New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

This photo shows the Allen Road wildfire in Bass River State Forest. On Friday, June 2, 2023, smoke from the fire closed 25 miles of the Garden State Parkway from the Atlantic City Expressway interchange to the connection with Route 72 headed to Long Beach Island until 9:30 a.m.

UPDATE: The Garden State Parkway has reopened both northbound and southbound lanes to traffic. Smoke caused by the wildfire at Bass River State Forrest is no longer limiting visibility for drivers, officials said.

Heavy smoke from a wildfire in the New Jersey Pinelands on Friday has shut down a 25-mile stretch of the Garden State Parkway, in both directions, north of the Atlantic City Expressway interchange.

The highway is closed from Exit 38 up to Exit 63, where it connects to Route 72 in Manahawkin, Ocean County. Route 72 is the road motorists take to get into and out of Long Beach Island. Currently, there is no timeline for when the Garden State Parkway is expected to reopen, New Jersey officials said.

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The smoke is originating from a 5000-acre wildfire at Bass River State Forrest in Tuckerton, Ocean County.

Other roads that are closed include Allen Road and Oswego Road; State Road between North Maple Avenue and Route 679; and Route 679 is closed between Route 563 and Leaktown Road, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service said. 

"When the smoke conditions at that location clear, the road will reopen," a New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesperson said. 

The Timberline Campground and Batona Trail are also closed. There have been no structures or buildings damaged by the fire and no reports of people injured, officials said.

The Allen Road Wildfire is 50% contained, according to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

The fire started as a tiny brush fire on Wednesday around 4:45 p.m., continued to grow overnight, and was 2,000 acres by Thursday morning, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service reported. By Thursday evening, the fire had increased to its current size, 5,000 acres.

A fire is considered a wildfire once it gets to 100 acres in size.

"This fire exhibited extreme… behavior throughout the night, even with high humidities," John Earlin Jr., forest fire warden and incident commander," said, according to WHYY. "The fire is a result of the extremely dry conditions that we've exhibited continuing from last year into this year."

This is a developing story and will be updated.