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Prosecutor: Fire that destroyed 5 Toms River shops deemed suspicious

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TOMS RIVER -

A fast-moving fire that destroyed five businesses at a Toms River strip mall has been deemed suspicious.

The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office announced the finding Monday, several hours after the fire broke out at the Ocean National Plaza on Route 9 south.

The blaze, which was reported around 12:10 a.m. Monday, quickly spread to other stores.

Toms River police say three restaurants were among the businesses destroyed in the blaze, which sent flames shooting high into the sky. It was fought for several hours by dozens of firefighters from Toms River and neighboring towns.

News 12 New Jersey is told that an employee from the strip mall was driving by around midnight and saw someone firebomb the Azteca Mexican Restaurant. But officials have not been able to confirm this.

Other businesses destroyed include Italian restaurant Esposito’s, BJ’s Dry Cleaner and Kokomo Nail Salon and an empty storefront.

Police say that no one was hurt. The fire is under investigation.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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