A vehicle fire Wednesday morning spread and damaged several businesses in a Route 166 strip mall, officials said.
Firefighters and police were called to the fire at 10:06 a.m. Wednesday after it broke out in a minivan parked in front of the shopping center at 970 Route 166, police spokesman Ralph Stocco said.
Police Officers Daniel Brennan and Brent Mundy arrived to find that the engine compartment of a 2001 Ford Windstar was engulfed in flames, Stocco said. The officers tried to contain the fire while firefighters were en route, but it quickly spread over the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
Toms River Fire Department #1 and Pleasant Plains Fire Company responded and ultimately extinguished the fire, said Stocco.
El Campesino Restaurant suffered damage and breaks to seven window panes. while several adjoining businesses had damage done to the awnings and signage.
The vehicle is owned by Edgar Alfonso of Scranton, Pa., who told police that he parked in the lot for five minutes and came out to find it on fire, Stocco said. Alfonso also said that he had not had any trouble with the minivan other than recently having a power steering fluid leak recently repaired.