The brush fire that shut down a section of the Garden State Parkway for hours Wednesday evening is believed to have been arson, State Police said Thursday.
Troopers initially responded to a report of the fire near milepost 91 in Brick Township around 5 p.m. The preliminary investigation found that several individuals, possibly kids, started the fire in a draining culvert that runs underneath the highway from the 91 north entrance ramp to the 91 south entrance ramp.
The suspects were seen running into the Evergreen Woods Park Apartment Complex, which runs parallel to the parkway, after starting the fire, officials said.
Smoke quickly billowed around, forcing authorities to close the area because it became too dangerous for drivers. Chopper 4 flew over the area, and fires could be seen burning on both sides of the parkway and in the median.
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
Anyone who may have witnessed the blaze or the events leading up to it is asked to call New Jersey State Police at 732-441-4526.