NJ boardwalk burned down after being rebuilt following Superstorm Sandy
Close to 400 firefighters helped fight the blaze, which ultimately destroyed over three quarters of the iconic boardwalk that was rebuilt just a few months ago after it was severely damaged from Superstorm Sandy almost a year ago. Voice of Russia Correspondent Vasili Sushko reports.
It hasn't even been a year since Superstorm Sandy swept through the Jersey shore neighborhoods of Seaside Park and Seaside Heights, yet tragedy has struck again. This time in the form of a massive fire that managed to destroy close to 80 percent of the boardwalk, and over 40 businesses that surrounded it. The fire began just after 2pm on Thursday, and lasted till the next morning. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency for the region.
“This is obviously just an unthinkable situation… for us to be standing here and watching this. What is going on behind all of you… it is just unthinkable.” –Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
According to local authorities, the fire was believed to start at an ice cream shop at the bottom of the boardwalk. Strong winds carried the blaze north for several hours, destroying everything in its path, from restaurants to amusement park stands. At the peak of the blaze, Christie said there were hundreds of first responders on the scene, many who traveled from all parts of New Jersey to help.
“35 engine companies, 15 ladder companies, any number of special service units, and on the scene now we have approximately 400 firefighters.” – Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
At around midnight the fire was under control, with firefighters battling just a few scattered “hot spots” in the area. Local business owners like the couple who owns George’s Pizza on the shore, told WPIX TV that by the time things settled down, they were exhausted. The thought of possibly having to rebuild once more: daunting.
“From two o’clock they tried to control, from two o’clock. It’s now nine o’clock. We said after Sandy we are going to be strong, we got to keep going, but after this we don't know how much we can do without help.” – Unnamed owners of George’s Pizza speaking to WPIX TV
Seaside Park was home to the iconic rollercoaster that was washed out into the water after the remnants of Hurricane Sandy swept through the area. Much of the boardwalk was washed away as well, many of the businesses destroyed. With around a month to go until the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, the area is once again destroyed. A thought that was difficult to register according to Seaside Park Police Chief Francis Larkin, especially since it the area did a good job getting back on its feet since the storm. Larkin told the New Jersey’s Star-Ledger it was disheartening to watch.
“I just can’t even believe what is going on over my shoulder right now. It is so devastating to this town. We are rejuvenating this area, we had concerts up here this summer, trying to get things back in order here after Sandy and just to see this, it’s just disbelief to me, it’s disheartening to see what’s going on.” – Francis Larkin, Seaside Park Police Chief, Speaking with New Jersey’s Star-Ledger
“Listen, I said when I got my first full briefing before I left Trenton. I said to my staff, ‘I feel like I want to throw up,’ and that's me. After all the effort and time and resources that we have put in to help the folks of Seaside Park and Seaside Heights rebuild, to see this going on as I said at the top is just unthinkable. So I know how I'm feeling and I can only image 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. This is us, as soon as this is over, we will pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and we will get back to work.” – Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
Firefighters have yet to determine the cause of the fire. The state fire marshal was on the scene investigating the cause, when thosefindings will be revealed to the public is still unknown. There were only a few minor injuries as a result of the fire, mostly smoke inhalation by firefighters. There were no casualties.