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Friday
Sep132013

NJ Boardwalk Fire Under Control

@GovChristie/Twitter(SEASIDE PARK, N.J.) -- Firefighters worked through the night to finally control a raging fire that tore out a section of the iconic Jersey Shore boardwalk and destroyed dozens of businesses, undoing months of rebuilding from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.

About 100 firefighters remained on the scene in Seaside Park, N.J., overnight to put out hot spots on the smoldering rubble, but fire officials say the situation was under control as of Friday morning.  At the height of the blaze, more than 400 firefighters, many of them volunteers, were called to the scene as Seaside Park declared a state of emergency.

Only non-serious injuries to firefighters have been reported, according to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was at the scene.

The fire went beyond 10 alarms at one point, according to ABC News station WABC-TV.

"You're seeing little pockets of fire. They're just getting as much water on it as they can to try and get the smoke condition down," Ocean County fire coordinator Brian Gabriel said Friday morning. "We're going to be putting water on this fire because, understand, some of these buildings have collapsed."

For hours on Thursday, the 20 to 30 mph winds pushed the fire, causing it to burn through a six-block length of boardwalk and causing millions of dollars in damage from Stockton Avenue in Seaside Park to Lincoln Avenue in Seaside Heights.

Late Thursday night, firefighters dug a trench and tore out a 25-foot swath boardwalk to prevent the wind-whipped blaze from jumping to an area just rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy.  Workers piled makeshift sand dunes to hold the fire back. Firefighters call the maneuver a firebreak.  In much the same way as forest fire crews rip out vegetation to deprive an advancing fire of fuel, the boardwalk gambit succeeded in halting the fire's extension any further into Seaside Heights.

"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.  They'll be people stationed there probably for another day or more and they expect that there may be controlled burning."

Work crews had just completed repairs to the boardwalk destroyed by storm waters just before Memorial Day and in time for a visit from Prince Harry in May.  The fire 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.

The fire might have begun Thursday around 2 p.m. at a Kohr's frozen custard stand on the boardwalk, according to WABC.  But officials were hesitant to speculate on a cause for the blaze, or even speak on the record about where it might have started.

Officials told ABC News that the section of boardwalk that burned 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.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio