Seaside Park ice cream hut fire might be arson, investigators say
Tuesday's predawn fire that destroyed an ice cream vending hut on the Seaside Park beachfront looks less and less like an accident, to Ocean County arson investigators who found traces of accelerant inside.
The wooden, 10' by 10' gazebo-like structure is one of seven that Seaside Park owns, and places along the beach for selling ice cream each the day. Police and firefighting crews arrived at the Second Avenue beachfront at 4:41 AM on August 8 to find it totally engulfed in flames.
Ocean County fire marshals sought help from the County Prosecutor's Arson Unit and Sheriff's Department Crime Scene Investigation unit.
Prompted by Detective Christopher Bonner of the Prosecutor's Office, Fire Marshal John Pasola and his K9 partner Sam, trained in accelerant detection, combed the remains. Sam reacted to the odor of flammable liquids in the floor system on the south side of the structure, authorities said.
A deeper investigation confirmed ignitable liquids in the same area. Detectives concluded that the fire originated inside the hut, and do not rule out the cause as open flame touching ignitable liquid.
Anyone with knowledge of the incident is urged to call Detective Bonner, 732-929-2027, extension 2449. Information is kept confidential.