LAKEWOOD (OCEAN)– Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that an investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Squad-Arson Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, has determined that the wildland fire which occurred in Lakewood Township and advanced into Brick Township on Sunday, March 14, 2021, was intentionally set.
“We have located the origin of the fire and have concluded that the fire was intentionally set,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.
On Sunday, March 14, 2021, at approximately 1:15 p.m., the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Observation Tower in Lakewood reported a wildland fire in the area of Cedarbridge Avenue and Airport Road in Lakewood. As the fire quickly spread, firefighters battled through the night – in the face of 20 mile-per-hour winds – in an effort to contain the blaze. During the course of the fire, a firefighter from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service suffered cardiac arrest. He was transported to Hackensack Meridian Ocean Medical Center in Brick Township where he is reported to be in stable condition. Approximately 167 acres of land were destroyed by the fire, and it was finally deemed under control on Monday, March 15, 2021, by approximately 1:00 p.m.
“The significance of this wildland fire cannot be overstated. We have a firefighter that suffered cardiac arrest while battling this fire. Three homeless people living in the woods were saved from the advancing fire. Numerous residences and commercial properties were damaged and hundreds of people were evacuated. It is only by the grace of God that no one was killed,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “This remains an active and ongoing investigation, and anyone with knowledge of information concerning this fire is urged to contact Sergeant Thomas Haskell of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, extension 3953,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.
Prosecutor Billhimer expresses his gratitude to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their thorough and collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation. Prosecutor Billhimer also commends the following agencies for their bravery and collective support in fighting and controlling this horrific fire: Ocean County Sheriff’s Office; New Jersey Forest Fire Service; New Jersey State Police; New Jersey State Police Traffic Incident Management Team; Ocean County Fire Coordinators; Ocean County EMS Coordinators; Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office; Lakewood Township Police Department; Brick Township Police Department; Toms River Township Police Department; Jackson Township Police Department; Howell Township Police Department; Chaverim of Lakewood; Hatzolah; Brick Township Bureau of Fire Safety; Brick Township EMS; Lakewood Township Fire Department; Lakewood Township EMS; Barnegat Township Fire Department; Beachwood Fire Department; Bayville Fire Department (Berkeley); Manitou Park Fire Department (Berkeley); Pinewald Pioneer Fire Department (Berkeley); Laurelton Fire Department (Brick); Breton Woods Fire Department (Brick); Pioneer Hose Fire Department (Brick); Herbertsville Fire Department (Brick); Toms River Fire Department Company No.1; Toms River Fire Department Company No. 2; Ocean Beach Fire Department (Toms River); East Dover Fire Department (Toms River); Silverton Fire Department (Toms River); Pleasant Plains Fire Department (Toms River); Manchester Township Fire Department; Whiting Fire Department (Manchester); Ridgeway Fire Department (Manchester); Mantoloking Fire Department; Waretown Fire Department; Ocean Gate Fire Department; Pine Beach Fire Department; Point Pleasant Borough Fire Department; Point Pleasant Beach Fire Department; Seaside Heights Fire Department; Seaside Park Fire Department; Island Heights Fire Department; Jackson Township Fire Department Company No.1; Jackson Mills Fire Department (Jackson); Cassville Fire Department (Jackson); Whitesville Fire Department (Jackson); Forked River Fire Department (Lacey); Lanoka Harbor Fire Department (Lacey); Lakehurst Fire Department; Joint Base McGuire-Dix Fire Department; Lavallette Fire Department; Eatontown Fire Department; Wanamassa Fire Department (Ocean – Monmouth County); Oakhurst Fire Department (Ocean – Monmouth County); West Long Branch Fire Department; Hamilton Fire Department (Neptune); Shark River Hills Fire Department (Neptune); Neptune City Fire Department; Colts Neck Fire Department; Southard Fire Department (Howell); and Goodwill Hose Fire Department (Belmar).
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin is pleased to announce Elizabeth Peddicord as the new Director of Finance and Chief Financial Officer for the Township.
Peddicord most recently served as the Chief Financial Officer of the Township of Evesham, where she prepared the annual budget, managed accounts payable, assisted with contract negotiations, and supervised employees. Previously the Treasurer for Evesham for eleven years, Peddicord also has experience as an auditor for other municipalities and associations working in the private sector. Peddicord is also licensed as a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Tax Collector and Qualified Purchasing Agent.
“I am looking forward to serving the residents of Hamilton Township. This is an exciting opportunity, between the pandemic and the recent local aid, to set Hamilton up for short and long term financial success,” said Peddicord.
Peddicord is a graduate of Stockton University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and received her Masters of Arts in Corporate Public Relations from Rowan University. She is mother of four young children and enjoys running in her spare time.
“I am thrilled to have Liz join the Township,” said Mayor Martin. “I am thankful for her willingness to serve and am confident that Hamilton Township is in good hands with Liz as part of our Finance team.”
“I would also like to thank our Business Administrator Kathy Monzo for filling the position of Acting CFO and Tax Collector Danielle Peacock for assuming the position of Acting Director of Finance while we searched for a new hire.”
Peddicord will assume the role of Director of Finance/Chief Financial Officer on Monday, March 22, 2021. This nomination requires, and is expected to receive, the consent of the Hamilton Township Council.
TRENTON (MERCER)– Trenton Police Director Sheilah A. Coley today announced that a Trenton man had been arrested for multiple drug offenses on Mar. 17, 2021 after a two-week operation seized 50 bricks of heroin and more than $1,000 in suspected drug proceeds.
Anthony Z. Jackson, 28, of Trenton, was charged with possession of heroin, possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, possession with the intent to distribute within 1000 feet of a school, and possession with the intent to distribute within 500 feet of a park.
The arrest was carried out following complaints of narcotic activity at 125 N. Hermitage Ave, which led to a two-week surveillance investigation of the location by the Violent Crimes Rapid Response Unit.
After executing a search warrant on March 17, 2021, members of the Street Crimes Unit entered the property and apprehended Jackson without incident.
During a search of the premises, officers confiscated 50 bricks of heroin and $1,343 in suspected drug proceeds.
“While our community seeks to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot lose ground to the other disease that has claimed far too many lives for years,” said Director Coley. “The opioid crisis is still very real, and I thank the residents who report these crimes and the TPD officers who are out there every day ridding the streets of dangerous narcotics before they harm more Trentonians.”
These charges and allegations are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. This is an ongoing investigation.
BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP (BURLINGTON)– A single car lost control, knocking down traffic light signals in Bordentown Township, yesterday afternoon.
The crash occurred around 4:45 pm on March 18. Bordentown Township Police responded to the single car collision on Route 206 at Carmen Avenue.
Investigation revealed that a 2013 BMW 3 series, operated by Tyquell Lee, age 33, of Reeves Avenue in Hamilton, was traveling on Route 206 when he lost control of his vehicle and struck two light standards at the intersection of Carmen Avenue. The light standards were rendered inoperable as a result of the collision.
Fire Police responded to assist Township Police with traffic control. NJDOT responded to the scene and replaced the traffic light standards.
No one was injured in the crash.
This crash still remains under investigation by Bordentown Township Police. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Ptl. Zackman of the department’s Traffic Safety Unit at 609-298-4300, ext. 3288.