Seaside Fire Still Smoulders [VIDEO]
The fire on the boardwalk in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights is nearly under control as most mutual aid has left and an investigation begins into the cause of the fire.
3:18 p.m. – Bruce Kohr, who owned 4 Kohr’s custard shops destroyed by the fire, told the Wall Street Journal he is sick over the fire and plans on rebuilding the location on Farragut Avenue. “I don’t know how much more I can take,” he said, adding later, “We’re a mess. We didn’t even recover fully yet from the effects of Sandy. This is just adding salt to the wound.”
3:10 p.m. – Seaside Park officials began planning Friday morning to rebuild their part of the boardwalk, at the southern end, where the fire began near a frozen custard stand. Most of the boardwalk shared by the two towns was still intact. Bob Martucci, the borough administrator, said it will cost $600,000 to rebuild the borough-owned boardwalk. Individual businesses would not be included in that cost, he said.
2:57 p.m. – The Seaside Heights Business Improvement District says they will not be canceling any scheduled events including this weekend’s Boy Scout Jamboree and New Heights Fesitval. They say the “vast majority” of the boardwalk was not damaged. Upcoming events include the 5th annual Que By The Sea barbeque competition, Fishin’ In Seaside Heights on October 4 and the Italian Street Festival and Columbus Day Parade October 11 -13
1:50 p.m. – Most firefighters have left Seaside according to the New Jersey Department of Emergency Management which posts on their Facebook page only Seaside Heights and Seaside Park fire departments are still on scene. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office has moved in to begin their investigation and a high police perimeter remains around the immediate area of the fire.
12:28 p.m. – Route 35 is reopened into Seaside Heights in both directions but expect delays.
11:56 a.m.: The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office is looking for photos and videos taken at the start of the fire near Kohr’s. A spokesman for Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato explains that visuals might help investigators narrow down the source point, and perhaps reveal any repairs that might have been under way. Reach Coronato’s office at 732-929-2027, or contact Seaside Heights Police at 732-793-1800.
10:38 a.m: Governor Christie says the fire is 95% contained and was limited to commercial properties. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office will lead the investigation into the cause of the fire. 100 firefighters remain to get the flames out although “hot pockets” of fire will likely remain for days. “We will rebuild,” Christie said. “We will make new memories for our families because that’s what we do.” The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office will lead the investigation into the fire.
9:06 a.m. – White smoke is blowing out to sea as the smell of burnt wood hangs in the air south of Funtown Pier according to Jersey Shore Hurricane News, which reports surfers are in the ocean taking advantage of the rough seas churned up by Hurricane Gabrielle.
9:00 a.m. – “There’s not much left” in the affected areas, said Brian Gabriel, Ocean County’s fire coordinator. “It looks like a couple of bombs went off. It’s pretty much complete devastation.”
The fire was brought under control overnight thanks to heavy rain, a shift in the wind direction and a 25-foot trench on the boardwalk in Seaside Park at Lincoln Avenue filled with sand dunes that stopped the from continuing north.
Townsquare Media’s Ilya Hemlin in Seaside Heights says firefighters expect to continue putting water on the fire until at least 12noon as puffs of smoke are still coming from the rubble. Governor Chris Christie will update the situation at 10:30 a.m. from Seaside Heights.
Chief Thomas Boyd from Seaside Heights is urging everyone to stay away from the boardwalk area for a few days while the investigation into the fire continues. Two lanes eastbound to Seaside Heights on Route 37 over the Mathis Bridge are blocked along with Route 35 between 24th Ave and Bay Boulevard in Seaside Park. Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, said there was no immediate indication of whether the fire appeared to be suspicious or accidental. He tells the Star-Ledger that detectives have not been able to get into the fire scene yet.
The first priority, he said, was putting the fire out and securing the scene, he said. “The only building that’s not consumed by fire is part of the arcade and the Saw Mill Café,” Ocean County Fire Chief Brian Gabriel said in a press conference early Friday reports WCAU TV.
Overnight, NJ State Police, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, the Ocean County Sherriff’s Office, Toms River police, Seaside Heights police and Lavallette police established a perimeter around the area as a State of Emergency was declared.
The blaze destroyed all 32 businesses on the Seaside Park portion of the boardwalk, borough Councilwoman Nancy Koury told The Associated Press. More than 20 other boardwalk businesses in Seaside Heights also were burned, according to Michael Loundy, the town’s director of community improvements.
Governor Chris Christie on Thursday night vowed that Seaside would recover from the fire. “This is New Jersey. As soon as this is over, we will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back to work,” he said. The Beachcomber, which sustained damage from the fire, is heeding his advice. “The Beachcomber is much more than just a building; it is the spirit of our family, our friends, our employees, our bands and mostly our loyal customers throughout the years,” posted the Seaside Heights bar on its Facebook page.
“Thank all of you for your prayers and support through this horrific event. Although no specific reports can be given right now…know that we will be back, the sun will rise tomorrow and the future is bright.”