A Drive-By View Of The Pinelands Fire This Afternoon
I knew my drive into work would probably be a little nutty being that it is Good Friday before the holiday weekend, but the unexpected fires breaking out in the Pinelands along the Atlantic City Expressway made the trip a little more interesting. Luckily the traffic was not affected too much, but like many cars as you got closer to the damage, you more you slowed down and could not help but observe what was going on.
I was lucky to get a heads-up from Eric Johnson's news update (you know him as the host of Ask The Governor), and I was prepared for some delays on the road. I found more delays up around Route 42 split onto the A.C. Expressway than I did on the Expressway itself, but you could start to see the plumes of smoke as you come a few miles into the Expressway.
The smoke coming from within the forest around 1:30 looked like a light cloud formation, and as you got closer you could sense the magnitude of the problem ahead. I approached Exit 33 of the Expressway around 1:40 this afternoon - the exit is closed off with good reason as a helicopter was stationed right by the toll plaza with numerous trucks and what seemed to be news crews on the scene. Just past the exit is where the slow down was coming.
Most drivers will react to a bad accident by slowing down to see what happen. You know you shouldn't but your natural curiosity kicks in. The first thing that gets your attention is the smell of the smoke which penetrated into my car through my open vents.
The next thing was slowing up and observing the damage going on to the right of you - smoke lingering inside this forest (not to the level of the photo that was taken about an hour earlier, but still thick and noticeable), embers burning, trucks on the grass side containing the damage, and you start to realize what a great job the State Forest Fire personnel has done to keep this situation from affecting the traffic. Light traffic today with it being Good Friday had to have helped the situation because of people like me slowing down to take a gander at what has happened.
We will have more updates on this situation through our news feeds here on SoJO 104.9's website.