With the hot, dry weather continuing fire danger levels in New Jersey are starting to rise.

Much of the state is now facing a moderate wildfire risk, but officials are warning that could shoot higher by the end of this week.

Greg McLaughlin, the chief of the State Forest Fire Service and the New Jersey forest fire warden, said a big part of the problem is leaves are already starting to fall off the trees and “any additional fuels that accumulate on the forest floor such as leaves and pine needles, are things that can contribute to a fire start and a fire spread.”

“We’re seeing a premature fall season starting here in August that we wouldn’t normally see until perhaps mid or late October.”

He said especially with the dry conditions we have right now, if you are doing any kind of outdoor cooking or barbecuing be extra careful.

“A (camp) fire isn’t really considered out unless that fire is cold to the touch," he said.

156837223
Getty Images/iStockphoto
loading...

Things could change quickly

McLaughlin noted with everything this dry and so many leaves already on the ground, “we could go from a low fire danger to a high or extreme fire danger, that can change quickly in a matter of days.”

He said with temperatures in the 80s, even if there is thunderstorm activity in the Pinelands, where the soil is sandy, “we could potentially have significant fires on the same day or within a day or two from that rainfall because that moisture is not being held in the soil.”

He noted most wildfires actually start on the ground, and then depending on conditions, will work their way up through shrubs and into the tree tops.

137955682
ThinkStock
loading...

Danger can spread quickly

“That’s a fire that’s of very significant concern because it can spread quickly from tree top to tree top and what happens is it also can spread by sending burning embers of bark long distances,” he said.

McLaughlin noted over the past week statewide “we have experienced 81 fires, which is about 40% more than we would normally see at this time of year.”

He said most of these fires have been small, but there is always the potential for this kind of blaze to quickly get out of hand.

If there is any kind of forest fire, keep drones grounded

When a wildfire breaks out, the Forest Fire Service will frequently use low-flying aircraft to assist in fire suppression efforts. Drones become a flight hazard.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

LOOK: What are the odds that these 50 totally random events will happen to you?

Stacker took the guesswork out of 50 random events to determine just how likely they are to actually happen. They sourced their information from government statistics, scientific articles, and other primary documents. Keep reading to find out why expectant parents shouldn't count on due dates -- and why you should be more worried about dying on your birthday than living to 100 years old.

LOOK: These Are the 50 biggest retailers in America

Stacker compiled a list of the 50 biggest retailers in the country, using retail sales data from Kantar, provided by the National Retail Federation.

See the Must-Drive Roads in Every State

More From Cat Country 96.7 /104.1