Less than a year after Hurricane Sandy ravaged towns along the New Jersey coast, tragedy struck again.
Flames raged last Thursday, Sept. 12 afternoon on New Jersey’s FunTown Pier. Previously demolished by Hurricane Sandy, the Pier had undergone complete renovations and rebuilding this summer. The flames roared for over nine hours, consuming four blocks of Seaside Park’s famed boardwalk. The fire was only stopped when rescue crews ripped out two large sections of the newly rebuilt boardwalk.
According to Robert Martucci, Seaside Park Town Administrator, the fire started at Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard Shop on the Pier. The raging flames destroyed over 30 local businesses, leaving owners disheartened and discouraged less than one year after Hurricane Sandy left them in ruins. In fact, this summer Seaside Park hosted the ribbon-cutting and reopening of the Jersey Shore. In an attempt to eradicate the flames, approximately 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of water were pumped per minute from Barnegat Bay, which runs for 30 miles along the coast of New Jersey. The high winds and tar roofs of the surrounding businesses accelerated the fire and hindered firefighting efforts.
CNN reported that, fortunately, a firefighter convention was taking place in Wildwood, around 90 miles south of the fire. Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers stated that approximately 400 firefighters from 30 different towns were able to respond, many from volunteer units, according to NBC News.
No serious injuries have been reported, with the exception of three first responders who were hurt Friday by falling out of a high vehicle, sustaining head injuries. Authorities were unsure of what caused the fire until Tuesday, when it was determined to be accidental, according to ABC News.
USA Today quoted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as saying that the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office will be the lead investigative agency regarding the fire, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also joining the investigation. The State Police Arson Bomb Unit, New Jersey State Fire Marshal and the Camden County Prosecutors Office are also involved. The investigation is expected to take several days.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy have offered their assistance to New Jersey in efforts to rebuild. Both of these states had also been greatly affected by the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy less than a year ago.
Governor Christie expressed his sentiments regarding the tragic incident: “We have endured and begun to come back from the devastation of Sandy. We will not let these fires destroy those efforts.” Those from the state of New Jersey remain resilient in the face of tragedy, but recovering from this fire will require strong effort and dedication.
The White House is in touch with Governor Christie and his administration in order to discuss relief efforts. Many of the businesses devastated by Hurricane Sandy and attempting to recuperate are once again in ruins as a result of this tragedy.
Questions are arising regarding whether these businesses had regained their proper insurance. This is also an important issue when considering the storm damage to the area less than a year ago.
On Saturday, Sept. 14, Governor Christie pledged $15 million in state aid. Much support will be necessary to rebuild and recover once again; and the motto of “Jersey Strong” will be surely tested.
Information from CNN News, USA Today, The New York Times and ABC News was used in this news article.