TOMS RIVER – A large blaze severely damaged the Ocean National Plaza shopping center on Route 9 and Cox Cro Road. Investigators are treating it as suspicious in nature.
Video from The Lakewood Scoop showed large flames shooting out of the roof at 2114 US Highway 9 late Sunday night, July 8th.
Al Della Fave at The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office tells Jersey Shore Online that the blaze started around midnight in the area of the cleaners located within the strip mall. He says “the fire is deemed suspicious and anyone who observed anything is asked to contact the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office’s Arson Investigator Christopher Bonner at 732-929-2027 extension 2449 or the Toms River Police Department’s Detective Bureau at 732-349-0150.”
According to Ocean County Scanner News, it appears the flames originated in the cleaners but quickly spread.
There are a number of businesses in the center including a pizzeria, a Mexican restaurant and nail salon. Police tell us that the Kokomo Nail Salon, Wing Far Chinese Restaurant and Azteca Mexican Restaurant were all destroyed in the blaze.
Firefighters from Toms River and Lakewood were at the scene most of the night. An additional request for backup from Manchester was called in. Route 9 remained shut down in the area until early Monday morning but has been reopened.
Both the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the Fire Marshall are investigating what caused the inferno.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries. The plaza suffered devastating damage.