Two New Jersey towns, badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy last October, have had their recently repaired beach fronts destroyed by a fire.
The fire began after 2pm on Thursday, on the Boardwalk in Seaside Park. Strong winds swept the fire north along the Boardwalk of Seaside Heights. Funtown Pier, which has been damaged by Sandy, collapse amidst flames. A historic carousel, which had just been refurbished, was another victim.
Twenty businesses over six blocks was destroyed. The US government had just spent $8 million repairing damage from last year’s Superstorm.
Rory Delaney, a co-owner of a commercial building on the Boardwalk, said that her building is “gone, it’s rubble.”
The building had just reopened in mid-July having been repaired post Sandy. She told the New York Times “We just finished work on the basement last week.”
Keith Brown, whose friend’s clothing and gift store had just reopened, said “The fire will have a ripple effect beyond the immediate area.”
“Morale was just coming back, and now it’s gone.”
Another local Johnny Nysether (24) had his first job at a candy store on the Boardwalk. The store went up in smoke on Thursday.
He said “Watching it burn is a lot like watching it drown.
“I have a lot of friends and family that just lost their jobs.”
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey spoke to the press standing in front of emergency vehicles in Seaside Heights.
He called the fire “unthinkable”.
“I said to my staff, ‘I feel like I want to throw up.’ ”
He added “This is us, soon as this is over, we'll pick ourselves up, we'll dust ourselves off, and we'll get back to work.
“I can only imagine how the residents and business owners in this town are feeling.”
About 400 firefighters found the flames for five hours until it was contained just before 8pm. They removed strips of newly built boardwalk and dug a 50-foot trench to stop the fire from spreading.
The fire started at the Seaside Park location of Kohr’s Frozen Custard but there has been no speculation as to the cause of the fire.
Mayor Robert Matthies of Seaside Park said the gusty weather contributed heavily. He said “a combination of the worst elements at one time.”
He told the press “This is another tremendous wrench in the recovery.”
Although firefighters were being treated for smoke inhalation it appeared there were no serious injuries.
Here’s ABC 57’s report: