Prosecutor: Forest fire in Lakewood that torched 167 acres, damaged homes was intentionally set
A massive forest fire that heavily damaged homes and shut down the Garden State Parkway for hours in Ocean County earlier this week was the result of arson, according to investigators.
“We have located the origin of the fire and have concluded that the fire was intentionally set,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer wrote in a statement.
The fire began around 1:15 p.m. on Sunday in a wooded area near Cedarbridge Avenue and Airport Road in Lakewood. It took firefighters from all over New Jersey about 24 hours to get the fire under control.
Authorities say that one firefighter with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service suffered cardiac arrest while fighting the blaze. He is reported to be in stable condition at Hackensack Meridian Ocean Medical Center in Brick.
The fire destroyed 167 acres of land and damaged many homes. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated, according to officials. Three homeless people living in the woods were also saved.
“It is only by the grace of God that no one was killed,” Billhimer stated. “This remains an active and ongoing investigation.”
No arrests have been made.
Anyone who may have information about the fire should contact Sgt. Thomas Haskell of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, extension 3953.