Lakewood – Two downtown businesses were destroyed in a fiery blaze at 322 Fifth Street around 11 p.m. Thursday, said Fire Chief Rodney Youmans.
It took about four hours to get the “stubborn fire” at the commercial structure under control, he said.
About 60 firefighters responded to battle the blaze, after smoke and flames were seen coming from the roof, said Sgt. Robert Smith.
Late Friday morning, about a dozen firefighters remained, hitting hotspots that continued to be problematic, Youmans said.
Construction crews from the township and Ocean County were preparing to demolish the remaining portions of the structure, which housed Classy Cleaners as well as the Just Four Wheels car rental agency .
“It was a tough fire,” Youmans said. “We had a roof collapse” during the firefighting efforts, he said.
Fifth Street was scheduled to remain closed between Clifton and Madison avenues for most of Friday for the investigation into the fire as well as for work being done by the New Jersey American Water Company for a water main break in front of the burned structure, Youmans said. The street was closed to vehicles and pedestrian traffic.
The general alarm fire brought out all five Lakewood fire companies, as well as Brick, Howell, and Point Pleasant fire companies.
The American Red Cross Jersey Coast Chapter and Salvation Army responded to support the emergency responders.
The Ocean County fire marshals, Ed Hazelton and Michael Marks, are investigating, as well as members of the county prosecutor’s office and the county Sheriff’s Department’s criminal investigators.
The cause remains under investigation, officials said.