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Toms River Downtown Fire Investigation Continues

Ilya Hemlin Townsquare Media

Fire and police officials are investigating the cause of a massive structure fire in downtown Toms River that destroyed three businesses late night Thursday.

The fire is believed to have started at East Coast Gamers, located at 38 Robbins Street, and spread to adjoining businesses including Capone’s Restaurant and the non-profit Hometown Heroes.

Police say they first responded to a burglar alarm at East Coast Gamers at 11:18 p.m. Thursday evening, when they arrived smoke and flames were already billowing near the front and back of the store, which had closed at 10 p.m. following a gaming tournament.

“We have seen that before,” said Toms River Fire Safety Director Jim Mercready.”Usually what happens is you get a line failure, the wire may have burnt through the wire of the system and triggered the alarm. Especially in buildings that don’t have an alarm system we’ve seen that in the past.”

He noted some of the buildings in downtown Toms River are very old, making it difficult to contain the fire.

“Inherently the buildings are old and over the years what happens is you end up with a lot of concealed spaces. They’re older structures that just don’t have the same level of fire protection.”

Fourteen fire companies responded to the call, and it was deemed under control by 3:11 am Friday morning.

No civilians were injured and one fire fighter suffered minor injuries.

The cause is being investigated by Township Fire and Police officials as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, who will be conducted an investigation into any possible arson.

Ralph Stocco, spokesperson for the Toms River Fire Department noted there is a possibility the structures would need to be partially demolished, meaning roads would have to be closed down for heavy equipment.

He did not know if or when that would be happening.


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