Rare New Jersey wildfire leaves one firefighter critically injured

A rare wildfire that burned more than 170 acres in Lakewood closed part of the Garden State Parkway and left one firefighter in critical condition.

A wildfire burned more than 170 acres in New Jersey on Sunday, forcing part of the Garden State Parkway to close and leaving one firefighter hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said.

The fire started around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the intersection near Airport Road and Cedarbridge Avenue in Lakewood, about 47 miles east of Trenton. Aided by high winds and low humidity, the wildfire jumped across the Garden State Parkway, said Lakewood police chief Steve Allaire, according to The Lakewood Scoop.

A state firefighter was critically injured and taken to a hospital, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service said in a Facebook post late Sunday. Two mixed-use buildings were destroyed and some ancillary structures like sheds were affected, but no homes appeared to have been damaged in the blaze, the agency said.

Videos showed dark plumes of smoke covering parts of the Garden State Parkway.

Residents near Lakewood were forced to evacuate Sunday afternoon, though people in nearby Brick Township returned home later that evening, officials said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, but the agency said that it was not from a prescribed burn.

As of 10:30 p.m. Sunday, more than 170 acres were still burning as emergency personnel worked overnight to control and suppress the fire, the New Jersey fire service said. It was unclear how much of the wildfire was contained as of Monday morning.

The fire service could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

The Garden State Parkway was partially closed Sunday, but reopened Monday morning, according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

A large portion of New Jersey was under a red flag warning as winds are expected to gust as high as 30 mph, the National Weather Service said. The warning will remain until 5 p.m. Monday.