Brush fire continues to burn in Ocean County, 1 firefighter critically hurt

LAKEWOOD, New Jersey (WABC) -- A massive brush fire engulfed a large area of New Jersey's Ocean County, damaging dozens of homes and forcing evacuations.

A firefighter with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service was injured Sunday and remains hospitalized in critical condition.

The Garden State Parkway near Brick Township was shut down for hours and is back open, but officials say the fire will continue to burn and smolder in interior areas east of the Parkway, south of Cedar Bridge Avenue, and north of Route 70.

All evacuees have been permitted to return home.

Fire officials say the fire began around 1:30 p.m. Sunday in wooded areas just off Route 70 in Lakewood.

"We're just trying to hold our lines where we're at," said Dale Carry, with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. "Eliminate the hot spots and keep it where it's at."

The fire engulfed more than 170 acres in an area that's heavy on both brush and commerce.

Twenty-nine homes are damaged in Brick, while in Lakewood, three commercial buildings were destroyed.
EMBED More News Videos

Large brush fire burning in Ocean County, NJ near Lakewood amid gusty winds and dry conditions in the region.

The fire is more than 50% contained, although strong winds remain a challenge.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service has put Stage Three fire restrictions into place, which prohibits fires in wooded areas unless contained in an elevated stove using only propane, natural gas, gas, or electricity. Charcoal fires are also prohibited.

The origin has been identified, and the cause is under investigation. It was not a prescribed burn.

MORE NEWS: Woman found dead in mountains after going missing on hike
EMBED More News Videos

A Glendale woman who went missing while hiking in the Angeles National Forest last weekend was found dead Saturday, police said.

* More New Jersey news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.