With winds gusting to 30 mph Sunday and the air bone-dry, the National Weather Service has posted a “red flag” fire warning for all of New Jersey until 8 p.m.
The weather service said that conditions on a quite chilly last day of astronomical spring that would be “ripe for explosive fire growth.”
An advisory for “elevated fire danger” was issued for southeastern Pennsylvania, where similar weather conditions were expected – wind gusts to 30 mph and temperatures no higher than the low 40s, one of the coldest days of a remarkably warm winter.
» READ MORE: This is the fire season in New Jersey
Jersey, however, was put under a higher state of alert because its burnable forest fuels are more vulnerable, said Alex Dodd, a lead meteorologist at the Mount Holly office.
March is an especially dangerous time for fires as leaves that retain moisture and, thus, could retard the spread of fire, haven’t yet matured. And officials say warmer winters appear to be moving up the season.
Plus, precipitation on both sides of the Delaware River this month has been significantly below normal.
Serious March blazes erupted in New Jersey in 2021 and in 2019, when the Spring Hill fire burned more than 11,000 acres in the Pine Barrens.
» READ MORE: The 2019 fire burned 11,000 acres
Inquirer staff writer Frank Kummer contributed to this article.