Jet Was On Training Mission At Nearby Firing Range
Firefighters are battling a 13,500-acre blaze near Pine Barrens,
NJ that was apparently sparked not by lightning, or a firebug...
but by a flare accidentally fired from a military jet on a training
mission Tuesday near the southern New Jersey community.
The New York Times reports the flare, fired by an F-16 flying
from Warren Grove Gunnery Range, ignited the fire that has forced
the evacuation of over 2,500 nearby residents. It is the fourth
time in the last eight years incidents at the training area have
sparked misgivings among local residents.
“I don’t think they should be doing it,” said
Brenda Schoeneberg, as she prepared to evacuate her home Tuesday
It is the third time the firing range has seen a fire since
1999, when approximately 1,600 acres were scorched. Three years
later, errant bombs set off a fire that ultimately scorched
approximately 11,000 acres.
And then there was a highly publicized 2004 incident, when
another F-16 from the range erroneously fired at least eight rounds
through the roof of a Little Egg Harbor Township elementary school.
As Aero-News reported, no one
was injured in that accident, as it occurred at night, and the
school suffered minor damage.
Military officials say the training range serves an important
role, and despite the risk there are no plans to move the facility
to another location.
“It’s a vital function those marines are doing for
our country,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn Reith of the New Jersey
Air National Guard.
Range spokesman Kryn Westhoven notes the range, in use for over
40 years, was originally selected due to its remote location.
“I understand residents’ concerns about the
range,” Westhoven said. “We’re proactive down
Most residents have resigned themselves to the presence of the
“Wherever you live you’re going to have
something,” Warren Grove resident John Kertland said.
“Here it’s fires, but I don’t dwell on