The wildfire that scorched nearly 170 acres near Lakewood last week was caused intentionally.
“We have located the origin of the fire and have concluded that the fire was intentionally set,” said Ocean County prosecutor Bradley Billhimer. No motive has been determined yet, NBC News reported.
“Numerous residences and commercial properties were damaged and hundreds of people were evacuated. It is only by the grace of G-d that no one was killed,” Billhimer added.
The fire was started at around 11:15 p.m. Sunday at the intersection near Airport Road and Cedarbridge Avenue in Lakewood, and spread rapidly in the strong dry wind along the Garden State Parkway.
Police and firefighters closed several exits on the Parkway and Route 70 to battle the flames, even enlisting helicopters and small airplanes to dump water and coolant over the burning forests. It took firefighters from 30 departments throughout the state to work together and gain control over the blaze.
It took 24 hours to contain the fire, and several homes and businesses were badly damaged. Fortunately, no injuries among people who had to evacuate their homes were reported, though one firefighter was hospitalized for a heart attack and is currently in stable condition.