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Bridgewater Under 'High' Forest Fire Warning

Heat and lack of rain take their toll.

Heat and a lack of rain have made Sussex, Morris and Somerset counties highly susceptible to forest fires, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The state has seen almost twice as many (873) fires in since Jan. 1 than in all of 2011 (465), the state Forest Fire Service said.

The state has placed the area at Stage No. 1 in fire restriction rating system, which means most outdoor fires are prohibited, unless it's in a properly constructed ring.

"All fine dead fuels ignite readily and fires start easily from most causes," the Forest Fire Service said on its website. "Unattended brush and campfires are likely to escape. Fires spread rapidly and short-distance spotting is common. High-intensity burning may develop on slopes or in concentrations of fine fuels. Fires may become serious and their control difficult unless they are attacked successfully while small."

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