No injuries are reported in a forest fire still smoldering in swampy woodlands off Cattus Island Boulevard in Toms River, authorities said on Sunday afternoon.
The cause is not yet known, but is under investigation by the Forest Fire Service and the Ocean County Fire Marshal's office.
Police got the call about the forest fire at 6:30 a.m. Sunday and were joined at the scene by the state Forest Fire Service at about 8 a.m., said Christopher Claus, chief park naturalist for Cattus Island County Park. Station 28 of the East Dover Fire Department and the Ocean County Fire Marshal's office were also assisting at the scene.
The crews got the flames under control but are still working to extinguish the last of the smoldering remains, Claus said, as he sat in his truck at the intersection of Cattus Island Boulevard and Harrison Road, near where authorities were accessing the scene down a dirt road at the end of Cattus island Boulevard.
"If the wind changes direction to east, and the flames reignite, the fire will be moving towards these houses," Claus said, pointing to the houses on Harrison. "They're working to extinguish the last of it before anything like that happens. They've got at least five hoses running back there now and there are 12 to 20 guys there."
Standing at the intersection, and looking down the roads and up into the sky at about 3 p.m., there was no visual sign or smell of a fire near the quiet, residential neighborhood.
The fire is in a swampy area about three-quarters of a mile to a mile in from the corner of Cattus Island and Harrison, Claus said. The fire covers about half an acre of property on or near the border of county and state land trust property, he said.
He said the trees and shrubs burned in the blaze "will come back" and any wildlife in the area was probably able to move away from the fire before they were harmed.
Police said some kids may have been partying in the woods sometimes before the fire began, but they do not yet know if that has any connection to the origin of the fire.
Ocean County Fire Marshal Daniel Mulligan said in a brief telephone interview on Sunday afternoon that while he had heard some preliminary information about kids possibly partying at or near the spot where the fire originated, he said he does not know if that has any connection to the fire starting. However, he said all information will be taken into consideration as the investigation into the cause continues.
The initial call about the fire was placed by someone in Lavallette who saw the smoke across Barnegat Bay, Claus said.