On the morning of Father’s Day 2022, multiple observers in fire towers and kayakers spotted a large wildfire near the Mullica River Campground along the banks of the river. Ignited by an illegal campfire, high winds and unusually low humidity caused it to spread rapidly. By the time New Jersey Forest Fire Service brought it under control, it burned about 13,500 acres, becoming the 17th largest recorded fire in New Jersey history.
I kayaked in the area affected by the fire a week before it started. On the afternoon of the fire, I drove down Route 206 and turned on Atsion Road after a family Father’s Day celebration in Egg Harbor Township. I saw a helicopter taking water out of the lake in the effort to contain the blaze.
The plumes of smoke appeared heaviest the following day. Barbara Solem and I planned to hike around Atsion Lake that morning but the recreation area was closed due to the fire. Instead, we walked the trails between the lake and Goshen Pond. I took some photos of the smoke rising beyond the lake and a helicopter surveying the blaze over Route 206, which was closed, near the Atsion Ranger Station at Quaker Bridge Road.
I drove around Tuesday morning. The towering plumes were gone but a stretch of Route 206 looked smokey and remained closed. The fire died down by the end of the week. On Friday, I drove my Jeep down Quaker Bridge Road and on Sunday I attended a meeting at Batsto Village, which had been threatened by the fire. I spotted some blackened and still smoking areas.