Various Towns, NJ Forest Fires, Apr 1880



Bricksburg, N.J., April 15. -- When a fire is started in a forest and the wind is strong it does not creep or eat its way, but it makes great strides. Glowing cinders or blazing embers are hurled forward through the air for a rod or a mile, as the case may be. Whether each of the fires raging in Ocean County had a separate origin or whether they are gigantic fingers of the same fiery hand is hard to say. It is not at all improbable that most of them had their origin in an uninhabitated tract of forest west of Woodmansie, which is about sixteen miles northwest of Barnegat. To each, however, a different origin is ascribed. A second fire, credited to a spark from a locomotive, has been traced from a point nine miles southeast of Whiting's Post Office, on the Tuckerton Railroad. This fire traveled northeast until it joined the one just described as having originated at the head waters of the Forked River in the Chickenbone Mountains, on Tuesday morning.
This morning fire was slowly eating its way against the wind down toward the north branch of Forked River. It was feeding on a patch of woods, from which it was sheered off yesterday, as above described. The alarm in the village had partly died away, but men were yet at work. This patch is bounded on the west and north by the track of Tuesday's and yesterday's fires, on the east by a wide cleared strip, the result of yesterday's back fire, and on the the south by the north branch. A brisk breeze from the north would cause the fire to overleap the narrow river. The column of flames that bore northward on Tom's River village divided, one part going to the west, and the other to the east. The latter encountered Tom's River, which at that place is a mile wide. Sparks were borne across and set fire to some woods on the Cranmore farm, belonging to Mr. John P. Haines, a member of the firm of Halsted, Haines & Co. Mr. Haines, who was on the farm at the time, in anticipation of danger, set twenty men at work, and the fire was stayed, after it had gained a headway, by back firing.

Barnegat, N. J., April 15. -- The forest fire which has done so much damage here is a separate one from the one north of us. It was caused through the carelessness of a man named Levi Reeves, living near here on the Sherman place, who set the cedar woods on fire while burning brush. It seems to be beyond control, and has burned through the cedars known as the Shreve place (formerly Little's). In its progress it has burned fences and cordwood, but luckily buildings escaped, principally through the vigilance of the people, who tore down trees and fences and fired against it. The residence of H. H. Bliss (built and once occupied by Thomas Placide, the actor), had a narrow escape, as the surrounding buildings were licked up by the flames.

Manchester, N.J., April 15. -- A report from Tom's River says that the great forest fire is spreading toward Tuckerton Beach, and that the residence and outhouses of Judge Jeffrey, one of the lay judges of the county, have been consumed. Judge Jeffrey's residence was on the banks of Tom's River, and was one of the handsomest mansions in Ocean County.

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