Lakewood-Brick fire was set intentionally, Ocean County Prosecutor says
The fire that singed through 170 acres of land between Lakewood and Brick, injuring a firefighter, setting fire to properties including 29 homes in Brick and putting lives at risk, was set on purpose, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer announced on Friday.
An investigation run by the OCPO Major Crime Squad-Arson Unit, OCPO High Tech Crime Unity, Ocean County Fire Marshal's Office, Lakewood Police Detectives and Ocean County Sheriff's Office CSI Unit led them to the finding that the wildland fire which occurred in Lakewood and advanced into Brick, was indeed intentionally set.
“We have located the origin of the fire and have concluded that the fire was intentionally set,” Prosecutor Billhimer said in a statement. “The significance of this wildland fire cannot be overstated. We have a firefighter that suffered cardiac arrest while battling this fire. Three homeless people living in the woods were saved from the advancing fire. Numerous residences and commercial properties were damaged and hundreds of people were evacuated. It is only by the grace of God that no one was killed."
The New Jersey Forest Fire Service was out in front of this historic inferno on Sunday afternoon and it was their Observation Tower in Lakewood that spotted the flames near Cedarbridge Avenue and Airport Road, Prosecutor Billhimer said.
It wasn't long before the flames spread rapidly and the windy conditions, about 20-mph, on Sunday made things even more treacherous and increased the difficulty of containing the fire.
While this was going on, a firefighter from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service who also is a firefighter at the East Dover Volunteer Fire Company in Toms River, suffered a cardiac arrest.
He was brought to Ocean Medical Center in Brick and is in stable condition as of Friday afternoon.<
It took firefighters 24-hours to contain the blaze.
"This remains an active and ongoing investigation, and anyone with knowledge of information concerning this fire is urged to contact Sergeant Thomas Haskell of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, extension 3953," Prosecutor Billhimer said.
LOOK: Shocking Photos From The Lakewood, Brick Wildfire
All in all, Prosecutor Billhimer said the following agencies assisted in the investigation and putting out of the fire.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit.
Ocean County Sheriff’s Office; New Jersey Forest Fire Service; New Jersey State Police; New Jersey State Police Traffic Incident Management Team; Ocean County Fire Coordinators; Ocean County EMS Coordinators; Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office; Lakewood Township Police Department; Brick Township Police Department; Toms River Township Police Department; Jackson Township Police Department; Howell Township Police Department; Chaverim of Lakewood; Hatzolah; Brick Township Bureau of Fire Safety; Brick Township EMS; Lakewood Township Fire Department; Lakewood Township EMS; Barnegat Township Fire Department; Beachwood Fire Department; Bayville Fire Department (Berkeley); Manitou Park Fire Department (Berkeley); Pinewald Pioneer Fire Department (Berkeley); Laurelton Fire Department (Brick); Breton Woods Fire Department (Brick); Pioneer Hose Fire Department (Brick); Herbertsville Fire Department (Brick); Toms River Fire Department Company No.1; Toms River Fire Department Company No. 2; Ocean Beach Fire Department (Toms River); East Dover Fire Department (Toms River); Silverton Fire Department (Toms River); Pleasant Plains Fire Department (Toms River); Manchester Township Fire Department; Whiting Fire Department (Manchester); Ridgeway Fire Department (Manchester); Mantoloking Fire Department; Waretown Fire Department; Ocean Gate Fire Department; Pine Beach Fire Department; Point Pleasant Borough Fire Department; Point Pleasant Beach Fire Department; Seaside Heights Fire Department; Seaside Park Fire Department; Island Heights Fire Department; Jackson Township Fire Department Company No.1; Jackson Mills Fire Department (Jackson); Cassville Fire Department (Jackson); Whitesville Fire Department (Jackson); Forked River Fire Department (Lacey); Lanoka Harbor Fire Department (Lacey); Lakehurst Fire Department; Joint Base McGuire-Dix Fire Department; Lavallette Fire Department; Eatontown Fire Department; Wanamassa Fire Department (Ocean – Monmouth County); Oakhurst Fire Department (Ocean - Monmouth County); West Long Branch Fire Department; Hamilton Fire Department (Neptune); Shark River Hills Fire Department (Neptune); Neptune City Fire Department; Colts Neck Fire Department; Southard Fire Department (Howell); and Goodwill Hose Fire Department (Belmar).