A significant wildfire gained strength overnight in Manchester Township, Ocean County, and now involves more than 2,500 acres. The fire led to an evacuation order and road closures.

UPDATE: The Lakehurst Police have announced that all evacuated residents may return home. "NJ Forest Fire advised it is safe to return. Thank you all for your cooperation". Rt 539 and Rt 70 have reopened to traffic.

A press conference has been scheduled for 10am Wednesday to give an update on the wildfire.

According to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, at 2 am Wednesday the fire was only 10% contained and was burning federal, state and private property in Manchester Twp.

The fire service says mandatory evacuations have been ordered in Lakehurst from Division St. to Route 70, Horicon Ave, and Beckerville Road. Approximately 170 homes were evacuated in Manchester and Lakehurst.

75 buildings were considered to be threatened at 2 am.

Residents evacuated have been relocated to the Manchester Township High School and are being supported by the American Red Cross, Manchester Township EMS, Manchester Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service is continuing to work on backfiring operations, where crews set a fire intentionally along the interior edge of a fireline to consume fuel in the path of a wildfire and/or to change the direction of the force of a fire.

Meantime, local volunteer fire departments are assisting by trying to protect nearby homes and businesses.

Several roads are closed because of the fire.
Route 539 is closed from Route 70 to Long Swamp Road. Route 70 is closed from Lakehurst Circle to Beckerville West Road. Horicon Ave, Beckerville East Road, and Beckerville West Road are all closed.

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