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Smoke From NJ Brush Fire Being Smelled As Far Away As NYC

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WASHINGTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The odor of smoke from a brush fire in southern New Jersey can be smelled as far away as New York City, some 90 miles away.

The fire, which broke out Sunday, has burned more than 1,500 acres, or about 2 square miles, along Batsto Road in Wharton State Forest.  It was first spotted around 3:30 p.m. Sunday, when the humidity was unusually low.

It was 50 percent contained and 30 percent controlled by 9 a.m. Monday, said Assistant Division Forest Fire Warden John Rieth.

The fire has not damaged any structures or caused any injuries. The cause is under investigation.

Chilly air early Monday pushed the smoke down, so it could be smelled in areas far away from the fire, Rieth said.

New York City’s emergency management office alerted residents in Brooklyn and Staten Island that they might smell smoke from the blaze, which is about 90 miles away.

Diana was among those who noticed the strong odor in Brooklyn on Monday morning.

“I didn’t smell it in my apartment, but when I came out in front of my door near the elevator, I could smell it very strong,” Sandy, of Brooklyn, told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.

“But then once I got down here in lower Manhattan, I was so surprised I could still smell it,” she told Rincon at Battery Park.

Fire at the Wharton State Forest in New Jersey (credit: CBS 2)

Fire at the Wharton State Forest in New Jersey (credit: CBS 2)

The smell had dissipated in Battery Park by Monday afternoon.

People in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx said they could also smell the smoke.

“You can actually see it. It looks like it’s overflowing,” Michael Berry, who works in the Bronx, told 1010 WINS. “It’s totally different than a fog, and I could start to smell it.”

The Environmental Protection Agency declared Monday an air quality action day and advised people to limit outdoor activities and reduce prolonged or heavy exertion. The EPA said fine particles in the air are unhealthy for sensitive groups, including children, the elderly and people with heart or lung disease.

The smoky air put New York City and parts of New Jersey and the lower Hudson Valley in the fourth-most severe category on the EPA’s six-step air-quality scale.

It’s the first time this year New York City’s air quality index reached a level worse than “good” or “moderate.”

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