WHARTON STATE FOREST — The wildfire that burned 3,500 acres since Thursday began with a lightning strike to several trees, officials said Monday.
The New Jersey Forest Fire Service led the investigation that found lightning struck several trees Wednesday night, including a pine tree where the fire began, according to a news release from Bob Considine, the press director for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The fire then spread to other trees before it was discovered Thursday afternoon.
The fire at Wharton State Forest above Batsto Village in Burlington County is 100 percent contained and controlled as of Monday afternoon, the release said.
State Park Police, New Jersey State Police, the Burlington County Fire Marshall and the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety helped in the investigation.
Crews continued to work overnight with the proper suppression efforts and mop-up operations will continue as needed, the release said.
“While the cause of this fire was natural, a vast majority of forest fires are the result of human activity, whether made in error, out of negligence or by deliberate actions,” Considine said in a statement. “Visitors to state parks and forests are encouraged to follow safety protocols when traveling through or camping in or near these fire-prone areas.”