Smoke from New Jersey wildfire stinks up New York City

As if New Yorkers needed another reason to pinch their noses at New Jersey.

A wildfire in New Jersey's Wharton State Forest sent a cloud of smoke rolling over New York City on Monday morning, putting the sunrise into a haze and causing many residents to worry there was a fire in their neighborhoods.

The pungent smell of burning grass and brush is familiar to Angelenos during fire season, but it's a little more unusual for New Yorkers, who found themselves under an air quality alert until at least until Monday evening.

Steve Holmes, an assistant state fire warden for the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, told The Times that the fire, about 90 miles south of Manhattan, was about 50% contained and had consumed about 1,500 acres in a remote area of the forest's quick-to-burn pine barrens.

That's relatively small as far as most newsmaking wildfires go. But an atmospheric inversion -- warm air resting on top of cold air -- has trapped the smoke closer to the ground, and that smoke has spread over the country's most populous city.

Some Californians have probably experienced that scenario, Holmes said, but “the general public around here is not really familiar with inversions. ... It's generating a lot of talk today, for sure."

No kidding:

smells like smoke all over brooklyn ¿¿¿¿

— Bernard (@gmarchiano96) April 7, 2014

Why am I smelling the smoke from a forest fire that is 90 miles away from Brooklyn

— Ariá (@arianna_ciulla) April 7, 2014

Smells like smoke everywhere I go in Manhattan today. #nyc #whatshappening

— Shelley Loo (@prsloo) April 7, 2014

I smell the smoke! Astoria, Queens, NYC. #jerseyfire

— spellingwitch (@spellingwitch) April 7, 2014

What's on fire in #nyc? Smells like smoke in at least Queens & UES.

— Danielle Rodino (@daniellerodino) April 7, 2014

Why does the bronx smell like smoke?

— ¿ (@HelloMariee) April 7, 2014

why does all of staten island smell like smoke

— rachhhhh (@rachhhgrillloo) April 7, 2014

Holmes said the cause of the fire was under investigation and that up to an inch of rain was expected to help beat back the blaze Monday evening. As for the smoke, Holmes said, "When the wind picks up, it’ll blow it right out and carry it out to sea.”

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