Lakewood fire investigation “at an impasse” as many witnesses won’t cooperate
Law enforcement, firefighters, first responders, families and friends of those who serve, the general public and communities in Ocean County and beyond want to know who/whom and what caused the historic 167-acre wildfire in Lakewood and Brick on March 14.
What we know at this point is that it was indeed arson, meaning whoever started the fire, did so on purpose and with some kind of intent.
The investigation into who/whom started the fire has reached a frustrating halt though as many potential witnesses of that fire aren't being forthcoming with information to law enforcement.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer released a statement on Monday that the investigation into the March 14 fire is still ongoing, but is now at an impasse.
“Detectives have attempted to interview approximately 60 potential witnesses and reviewed video recordings from cameras in proximity to the fire. The vast majority of these potential witnesses have been less than cooperative with our investigation, and as such, we are currently at an impasse at this point in time," Prosecutor Billhimer said.
If you or anyone you know has any information on who started the fire, contact the Ocean County Prosecutors Office immediately.
The investigation is being conducted by 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.
“On March 19, 2021, we announced that the fire’s origin had been identified, along with our conclusion that the fire was intentionally set. Since that time, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad - working in conjunction with the other involved law enforcement agencies - has been attempting to identify the individual or individuals responsible for starting this horrific wildfire, which resulted in the destruction of approximately 167 acres of land, the obliteration of a commercial establishment, a firefighter suffering cardiac arrest while battling the blaze, and the evacuation of hundreds of people from the area,” Prosecutor Billhimer said in a statement. “Detectives have attempted to interview approximately 60 potential witnesses and reviewed video recordings from cameras in proximity to the fire. The vast majority of these potential witnesses have been less than cooperative with our investigation, and as such, we are currently at an impasse at this point in time. If any member of the public in possession of information with regard to the March 14th wildland fire in Lakewood and Brick Townships to please contact Sergeant Thomas Haskell of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, extension 3953."
The firefighter who suffered a cardiac arrest, Brian Sauers Sr. of the East Dover Fire Company in Toms River, was in a coma for two weeks after the fire, returned home six weeks after the fire but had to go back to undergo bypass surgery. He is now home again recovering.