A fire has destroyed several dozen businesses on the Jersey shore, just months after much of the area was rebuilt following Superstorm Sandy. The fire, which began on Thursday in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, N.J., destroyed several entire blocks. Crews had 95 percent of the blaze contained Friday morning, but the ruined buildings could continue to smolder for days. Gov. Chris Christie arrived at the fire site Thursday night and promised that the community would recover from this catastrophe as well, according to the Associated Press:
“I will not permit all the work we’ve done over the last 10 months to be diminished or destroyed by what happened last night,” he said, standing across the street from a still-smoldering pizza shop and a gutted arcade building that he used to patronize with his family. “While we have lost a place that has provided generations of memories to our citizens, we will rebuild. We will make new memories, because that’s what we do.”
The wire service also reported the destruction of the Beachcomber Bar & Grill, where Nicole Polizzi of MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” who is also known as “Snooki,” was punched in the face when the show’s first season was being filmed. Several other well-known establishments burned to the ground, according to the New York Times:
The Music Sound shop was reduced to a smoldering wreck. Bubba’s Dog House, Three Brothers from Italy Pizza, Kupper’s French Fries, Jack-N-Bills Bar were just a few of the summer favorites completely leveled.
Daniel Shauger, manager of the Funtown Park Arcade, surveyed the damage to his business from a distance.
“Everyone is struggling down here, and now everything is completely destroyed,” he said. He was anxious to get inside and take a look at what was left, but knew he might have to wait awhile.
“I am sure everything inside has to be replaced, and somehow it will be,” he said. “We have a few tough years ahead of us but we will come back.”
While it was too early to put a financial toll on the fire, officials said that some 50 businesses were damaged or destroyed. . . .
According to eyewitness accounts, the blaze appears to have started at an iconic ice cream shop along the boardwalk and within 15 minutes it was out of control, quickly engulfing businesses along a stretch of beach in two towns.
Flames and black plumes of smoke shot high above the Boardwalk in Seaside Park, where the fire began after 2 p.m. Within hours, strong gusts of wind of 35 miles per hour swept the fire north along the adjoining Boardwalk of Seaside Heights, where a roller coaster had sat mangled in the ocean for months and became a symbol of the storm’s damage.
Funtown Pier, nearly destroyed by the hurricane, collapsed in flames. And nearby, the fire appeared to have ruined a historic carousel that had been painstakingly restored after the storm and reopened just months ago.
Several police officers and firefighters were injured in the fire. Its cause has not been determined.