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Park Officials Set Forest on Fire

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Dozens of acres of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area went up in flames Friday as part of a controlled burn in which park officials set the forest and fields on fire to preserve its health.

Acres of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area near Bushkill went up in flames .

Smoke could be seen seeping above the pine trees and flames spreading throughout the dry brush.

The fire was started on purpose by the National Park Service.

"Actually what we're doing is a prescribed burn, or a controlled burn.  This is to maintain the open space here in the park," said Park Fire Management Officer Cliff Lively.

Although the wildfire danger is high, park fire officials said this is the only time to torch the park because if they wait any longer it's too green.

The fire danger has resulted in making sure there's extra manpower. Crews also doused the outer area of the burn with water and made sure fire control lines are in place as well.

"It's like a trail that is a place for us to stop the fire or to start lighting the fire and then it just burns off of that," said Lively.

Drip torches are used to light a fire and burn nearly 60 acres of the forest and fields inside the park. The flames will eventually grow and spread, destroying everything in its path, which is a good thing for the park.

"We are promoting wildlife that needs open space to breed and nest and that sort of thing," said Lively.

The burn also gets rid of invasive plant species that could cause harm to native plants.

More controlled burns inside the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area will continue in the weeks ahead.