A smoke condition forced the evacuation of the Ocean County Probation Department in Toms River late this morning. Firefighters traced it to an overheating ventilation motor.

According to Fire District 1 Chief John Lightbody, a call arrived at 10:49 AM about a burning odor in the building on Washington Street.

Fire Chief Robert Sinnott of Silverton Station 29  and Ocean County Fire Coordinator Chris Aldrich were among the first to arrive, says Lightbody. They narrowed the problem to the ceiling area of  a second-floor conference room.

After a fruitless check of light fixtures and items in the room, firefighters clambered to the roof and found a motor burning in a natural gas-powered HVAC unit.

Washington Street was closed the short distance from Hooper Avenue to Hadley Street until 11:52 AM, while firefighters used mechanical means to drive the smoke from the building and let occupants return.

Volunteers of Fire Companies 25, 26, 28 and 29 responded. The cause is now being investigated by the Toms River Fire Prevention Bureau and members of the Ocean County Fire Marshal's Office.