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Friday
Sep132013

Firefighters Make Stand Against NJ Boardwalk Blaze

@GovChristie/Twitter(SEASIDE PARK, N.J.) -- Firefighters dug a trench and tore out a section of Jersey Shore boardwalk Thursday in an effort to prevent a furious, wind-whipped blaze from jumping to an area just rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy.

By late evening, officials were voicing hopes that the plan was working and the fire that raged on the boardwalk in Seaside Park, N.J., was dying down.

"The threat of it moving at this point is minimal and emergency workers did an amazing job," said John Camera, borough administrator in the neighboring boardwalk town of Seaside Heights, according to ABC News Radio.

"The fire appears to be under control," Camera said. "They'll be people stationed there probably for another day or more and they expect that there may be controlled burning."

At one point, the blaze went beyond 10 alarms to an "all county call," according to ABC News television affiliate WABC in New York. It destroyed a length of boardwalk containing perhaps 30 businesses, officials said, near the same stretch of sand where a rollercoaster landed upright in the ocean after Sandy hit the coastline in October 2012.

A stretch of boardwalk on the Jersey Shore was engulfed in flames Thursday when a six-alarm fire broke out in Seaside Park, N.J.

The boardwalk was near the same stretch of sand where a roller coaster landed upright in the ocean after Superstorm Sandy hit the coastline in October 2012.

"I said to my staff, 'I feel like I want to throw up,'" N.J. Gov. Chris Christie told reporters near the fire scene Thursday evening. "And that's me, after all the effort and time and resources that we put in."

By nightfall, a six-block length of boardwalk south of Lincoln Avenue had been almost totally destroyed, but firefighters were hopeful of keeping 30- to 40-mph winds from blowing the fire further north across a trench set up at Lincoln Avenue, Christie said. Beyond the fire break was a stretch of boardwalk just rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy devastated the area last October.

"I know how I'm feeling," Christie said. "I can only imagine how the residents and business owners in this area are feeling. My heart goes out to them. That's why I'm here to make sure that every resource is brought to bear to contain this problem."

Officials said they hoped a storm front expected in the area Thursday evening would help douse the flames and calm the winds, Christie added.

The fire was believed to have begun at a Kohr's frozen custard stand on the boardwalk, according to WABC.

Officials told ABC News that the section of boardwalk on fire was the only stretch that was not rebuilt after Sandy. It was part of the old boardwalk that was not destroyed in the storm, they said.

"The boardwalk's made out of wood," said John Camera, borough administrator in neighboring Seaside Heights, according to ABC News Radio. "Most of the construction on the buildings is wood and I'm sure it's spreading."

Seaside Park Police Chief Francis Larkin told WABC that workers were hosing down the boardwalk in the rebuilt area ahead of the flames, as well as rides and amusements, to try and keep the fire from spreading.

No major injuries have been reported, officials said. There was no immediate word on how the fire started.

"After going through Sandy...now there are blocks and blocks of the boardwalk ablaze, with Kohr's Custard and Three Brothers Pizza, and the historical carousel in Seaside Heights, a block into the Heights, that's compromised as well, it's absolutely, absolutely devastating what's going on right now," Larkin said. "It's just disbelief right now."

Christie said special lines had to be set up to draw water from Barnegat Bay to fight the fire.

Larkin said there were reports of "explosions" heard on the boardwalk that he said could be propane tanks from restaurants on the boardwalk.

Christie cancelled his scheduled events to travel to Seaside.

Parts of the famed boardwalk -- home of MTV's Jersey Shore and to amusements and restaurants -- were destroyed in the storm but quickly rebuilt in order to open by the summer of 2013.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio