Fire that closed Garden State Parkway may be arson: NJ State Police

A rush-hour fire that shut down a busy section of the Garden State Parkway for hours Wednesday appears to have been deliberately set, possibly by a group of juveniles, state police said Thursday.

The agency said it is seeking the public's help in what it termed an arson investigation of the blaze at Exit 91 in Brick. The fire forced the closure of traffic in both directions for hours and snarled traffic.

"Detectives determined that the fire was started by several individuals, possibly juveniles, within a drainage culvert that runs underneath the Garden State Parkway" from the north entrance ramp to the south exit ramp, State police said in a posting on the agency's web site.

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After starting the fire in the culvert, the suspects were seen running into a nearby apartment complex that sits next to the Parkway, state police said.

The fire broke out around 5 p.m. Wednesday; it was not until 7 a.m. Thursday that the roadway had fully reopened. Traffic backups of up to eight miles were reported.