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'Jersey Shore': Fire guts 80 percent of Jersey famous boardwalk

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Crews are still dousing hot spots after a massive fire ripped through a Jersey shore town, which totally destroyed 80 percent of a boardwalk that already heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy last year.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Seaside Park and neighboring Seaside Heights became rapidly engulfed by flames earlier this week. Thirty businesses over several blocks suffered heavy damages. Only two buildings, the Saw Mill Café and part of an arcade were unscathed. 

The fire is believed to have started near Kohr's Frozen Custard Shop. Radio dispatcher reports suggest the flames erupted from beneath the boardwalk.

Even more tragically was the fact that the area of Seaside Heights had been newly rebuilt following Sandy in October of last year. Funtown Pier, which had lost an estimated 90 percent of its 33 rides in the storm, was destroyed in the fire.

"It's just devastating to the area. It's just heartbreaking to see," Police Chief Francis Larken said. "After what we just went to almost a year ago, and now this. I'm just in disbelief and shock over this. I can't believe it, "

Officials estimate the damage from the fire will be in the millions.

"The resiliency that was demonstrated before will be called upon again to rebuild this section of the town and the commerce on the boardwalk," Seaside Park Mayor Bob Matthies said.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called the damage "obviously just an unthinkable situation" as the fire raged behind him in a press conference.

Strong seaside winds fueled the fire and complicated the efforts of the 400-plus firefighters who responded to the scene. Crews contained the fire seven hours after it started, according to Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd.

The fire quickly spread over the Ocean Avenue trench, forcing firefighters to head towards Lincoln Avenue.

There was no stopping the destructive force of the fire as embers blew for at least eight blocks, igniting a fire at the nearby Royal Sands Condominium complex at Sumner Avenue and Ocean Terrace that was quickly put out.

Other embers also landed on area homes and businesses. New Jersey Natural Gas isolated gas service just to the boardwalk area in an effort to keep the fire from spreading to homes in the area.

Local police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and representatives from the Ocean County prosecutor's office as well as Camden County's prosecutor's office and Ocean County's Fire Marshal will now move forward with its investigation of the fire.

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