New Jersey state police want to identify and talk to two men photographed near trucks late last month as 11,638 acres of Pinelands forest burned in the background.
Known as the Spring Hill wildfire, the blaze was “the worst in recent memory,” according to state Department of Environmental officials. The fire began March 30 in a remote part of the Penn State Forest in Burlington County, and scorched trees in Woodland and Washington Townships within the Pinelands National Reserve.
Detectives believe the men may have information, but are not identifying them as suspects. Detectives did not say how they obtained the picture.
The fire was first spotted last month from the Cedar Bridge and Apple Pie Hill fire towers. Fueled by high winds, it spread quickly over thousands of acres of state land in the Pine Barrens, a forested area of coastal plain that stretches for more than a million acres.
It took more than a day to contain the fire, and smoke plumes could be seen 40 miles away. The fire forced the temporary closure of part of Route 72, a main road for Pinelands access. No homes or business were threatened.
The New Jersey Forest Fire Service has been conducting prescribed burns for weeks as part of forest management, but state officials said the burns were not the cause of the blaze. Officials also ruled out lightning or power lines.
The worst fire in Pine Barrens history occurred in 1963 and burned 183,000 acres.