A brush fire that shut down the Garden State Parkway and roadways across Brick and Lakewood on Sunday has been mostly contained, however crews were on site all night into Monday morning to monitor wind conditions and ensure the fire does not flare up again.
“Urban Interface wildfires are one of the most challenging and resource straining events a fire department can face,” said Chief Christopher Ackermann of the Laurelton Fire Company. “I’m tremendously proud of the men and women from all response agencies on a local, county and state level. This combined team effort minimized damages to multiple residential and commercial properties.”
The blaze, which consumed 162 acres of the pine barrens west of Route 70 near the Brick-Lakewood border, threatened numerous stores along the commercial corridor, including Lowes, P.C. Richard & Son and Raymour and Flanigan. A rumor about the Chick-Fil-A restaurant near Lowes burning down was unfounded. There were, however, about 29 homes that were damaged – some heavily – and one firefighter suffered an undisclosed medical episode while fighting the blaze and was taken to a local hospital. He was in critical-but-stable condition, a source said, and his prognosis appeared to be positive.
The Brick Lake Park neighborhood was evacuated, and residents were kept out of their homes until the evening hours. The blaze rekindled after about 8 p.m., shutting the Parkway down for a second time, though by 9:30 p.m., the road had reopened. At one point, a helicopter scooped water from Lake Riviera in order to drop it on the flames and assist firefighters on the ground.
Traffic delays are expected to continue throughout the entire area Monday morning.
“In addition to our local fire companies, police and EMS, emergency personnel from the state, county and local municipalities are on the scene for the fires impacting our community and will remain on scene throughout the night to work to contain the fire as best as possible,” a statement from the township said Sunday night. “These crews are battling winds and dry brush/trees. Expect delays as they do their work.”
A so-called Red Flag Warning remains in effect until Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. This means there will be a combination of extremely low humidity and strong winds which could promote the spread of a brush fire.