Planned Fire At National Recreation Area

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LEHMAN TOWNSHIP -- More than two dozen acres of land burned in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area, but this wild fire was one that rangers in Pike County actually planned.

Flames rushed across a field in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. About 26 acres of land was consumed by fire and park officials say that was the plan all along.

"Burning is a tool that we use to maintain that beauty and that open grassland and habitat within the park," explained fire management officer Cliff Lively.

The stretch of land near Tom's Creek is the first of about 10 burns planned for the season to keep open space and habitats for wildlife, plans these men carry out carefully.

"Goal number one is, obviously, safety as always."

Weather conditions are the biggest safety factor for containing flames.

"We picked out a good day in our first real day of spring, I think so far. We got some good sun, no clouds," said forestry technician Mike Guarino.

A small area of leaves and brush was doused first with a diesel and gasoline mixture.  Then the flames took off fast.

Another major concern during this prescribed burn was keeping drivers safe. Two roads remained open the entire time.

"When we saw the smoke, thank goodness, we saw the people here so at least we knew it was under control, not knowing that they purposely set this," said Ann Campisi of Allentown.

Campisi and her friends were driving along Little Egypt Road and had no idea this was all planned, but were glad to see the number of fire officials standing nearby, especially close to route 209.

Fire officials say each blaze, although controlled, still always causes some concern until the final flame is doused.

"Being in this role, being responsible for everything here can make you nervous, but being nervous is always good when you're doing a controlled burn."