Fire Closes School, Threatens Homes, Prompts Evacuations

Ocean County Fire Closes School, Threatens Homes, Prompts Evacuations

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Photo courtesy: Jersey Mike @fromHPtoNJ Photo courtesy: Jersey Mike @fromHPtoNJ
BEACHWOOD, N.J. - A fire in Ocean County that is threatening homes, forcing the evacuation of homes and the closure of a local school, continues to burn Thursday evening.

Berkeley Township police said during a mid-afternoon press briefing that the fire started at 11:42 a.m. near the intersection of Grand Central Parkway and Berkeley Avenue, and it's now near Northern Boulevard.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service has confirmed the evacuation of 40 to 50 homes.  Officials went door to door telling people about evacuation. Only 2 refused to leave their homes.

"Firefighters from multiple departments from all over the state continue battle the fire. The blaze … is estimated at 300 Acres," police said. "Currently several homes sustained some damage but were not total losses."

No injuries have been reported in the blaze, but high wind, low humidity and dry forest have made this a class-five fire, "which is the most dangerous type," police say.

Right now homes south of Northern Boulevard are being allowed to return. Homes west of Northern Boulevard are not being allowed back yet, according to police.

Fox 29 was told there are four more fires. The second fire is also in Berkeley, five miles apart from where the first fire broke out. It is called the Berkeley Crossroads Fire. 621 homes between the two fires in Berkeley were evacuated.

Officials say the third fire is in Manchester Township, the fourth is in Lacey Township and the 5th fire is in Franklin, Gloucester County.

Toms River Regional School District said students at its Intermediate South school were evacuated as a precaution to the Poland Spring Arena at the request of the sheriff's department. The district said all students were evacuated safely and were being released from the arena around 2 p.m.

Berkeley Township residents are urged to check the township police department'sFacebook page and sign up for NIXLE Alerts for important updates.

Stay with FOX 29 News and MyFOXPhilly.com for more on this breaking news story.

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