The predawn fire that enveloped stacks of wood fencing components at a Howell company is being pursued as suspicious, township police revealed today.

(Southard Fire Dept. No.1)

Township police and fire investigators and the Monmouth County Fire Marshal's Office are probing circumstances that led to the inferno inside the Taylor Fence property that required hours to bring under control.

Seven firefighting companies responded while police initiated a prolonged closure of Route 33, between Route 34 and Colts Neck Road.

One firefighter was hospitalized for treatment of a knee injury. The Taylor Fence office and structural areas were not damaged.

The company is situated on the opposite side of Route 33 from the Angle Inn Mobile Home Park, where firefighters of the Adelphia company and township police probed an odor of burning plastic at about 11 PM Tuesday, according to Howell PD Sergeant Chris Antunez.

Just over an hour later, at 12:14 AM Wednesday, Howell police fielded a report of flames visible on the Taylor property.

Scores of firefighters and police arrived to find about 90 square feet of fence material, stacked 20 feet high, in flames, authorities said.

Adelphia, Ramtown, Southard, Squankum and Freewood Acres firefighters responded, with support by fire crews from Naval Weapons Station Earle and Colts Neck, Howell PD's emergency medical squad, the Farmingdale-Howell first aid team and Howell First Aid and Rescue squad.

The blaze is the third major conflagration at the shore within about 12 hours. In Toms River on Tuesday afternoon, a woman died when she became trapped in her house as flames enveloped it. Earlier in the day, more than a dozen boats were destroyed in a fire at the Seaport Inlet Marina in Belmar.

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