Wildfires cause evacuation of nursing homes

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Three New Jersey nursing homes evacuated 300 residents as a result of a forest fire spanning nearly 20 square miles in the southern part of the state, according to published reports.

Among those evacuated were 119 residents from Genesis-owned Southern Ocean Center in Stafford, NJ. They were evacuated first to a local high school, and eventually to other Genesis nursing homes in the state, according to Lisa J. Salamon, director of public relations at Genesis HealthCare Corp. Concerns about smoke prompted the evacuation, an Emergency Medical Services official said. Meanwhile, five homes in two senior citizen housing developments in Barnegat were destroyed.

Most of the evacuated nursing home residents are now back in their home facilities after all night rainstorms reduced the wildfire to a smolder. A flare dropped by a National Guard F-16 during a training exercise likely ignited the fire, according to officials.