🔥 The Dragway Wildfire is the third largest wildfire of the year

🔥 Fire is still burning in the "duff layer" of the Wharton State Forest

🔥 The best chance of a long, steady rainfall isn't until next week


It will take a "significant rainfall" to end the leftover smokey smell in Burlington and Camden counties from the Dragway Wildfire in Atco.

The fire near the former Atco Dragway that torched 1,778 acres is 100% contained but is still burning into the “duff layer” of the soil, which the Forest Fire Service said is common with summer wildfires. The layer is made up of the partially decayed organic material that accumulates on the ground. The high humidity keeps the smoke low to the ground.

The towns most impacted by the smoke include Evesham, Medford, Medford Lakes and Shamong in Burlington County and Berlin, Voorhees and Waterford in Camden County.

Fire crews are still present near the fire to improve containment lines, keep an eye on hotspots and monitor conditions.

Map shows the location of the former Atco Dragway
Map shows the location of the former Atco Dragway (Canva)

Blame it on the (lack of) steady rain

The smell will persist until there is significant rainfall over the area on the edge of the Wharton State Forest, according to the Forest Fire Service.

New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said the humidity will remain high through the weekend. There is a chance of thunderstorms with some downpours Friday and Saturday, which is not the steady rainfall that the Forest Fire Service is hoping for.

The best chance of an extended period of rain is Wednesday and Thursday as a cold front moves across the state, according to Zarrow.  The biggest wildcard is Hurricane Lee, a Category 4 storm whose exact track won't be determined until at least five days before any impact.

"If there are alarm bells to be rung, we will do so early next week. This is still a highly uncertain forecast — the storm is 2,000 miles away, after all," Zarrow said.

New Jersey's top wildfires of 2023
New Jersey's top wildfires of 2023 (Canva)
Dragway Wildfire in the Atco section of Waterford Township 8/23/23
Dragway Wildfire in the Atco section of Waterford Township 8/23/23 (NJ DEP)

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