Fire Engulfs Jersey Boardwalk

8 blocks of it destroyed in Seaside Heights, Seaside Park area

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Sep 12, 2013 5:12 PM CDT | Updated Sep 12, 2013 9:41 PM CDT

(Newser) – A raging fire destroyed much of an iconic Jersey shore boardwalk that had just been rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy, but a last-ditch effort to halt its spread by ripping out boards that had yet to burn succeeded in saving the rest of it tonight. The wind-whipped fire devoured eight blocks of boardwalk—four each in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights—destroyed dozens of boardwalk businesses, and caused millions in damages to the economic lifeblood of the twin tourist spots. "I feel like I want to throw up," said Gov. Chris Christie at the scene. No serious injuries were reported.

The Hail Mary effort to save the remainder of the boardwalk began in the evening when public works crews ripped out a 25-foot swath of boardwalk to serve as a makeshift fire break, depriving the blaze of fuel. They then filled the void with giant sand piles—makeshift dunes that this time held back not water but fire. "That appears to have done the trick," said Seaside Park Mayor Robert Matthies. The blaze destroyed all 32 businesses on the Seaside Park portion of the boardwalk, borough Councilwoman Nancy Koury told the AP. An undetermined number of additional boardwalk businesses in Seaside Heights also were burned.

Firefighters battle a blaze in a building on the Seaside Park boardwalk.
Firefighters battle a blaze in a building on the Seaside Park boardwalk.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Firefighters battle a blaze in a building on the Seaside Park boardwalk in New Jersey.
Firefighters battle a blaze in a building on the Seaside Park boardwalk in New Jersey.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Commuters drive on a bridge connecting the barrier island of Seaside Heights, N.J., with the mainland as cloud of smoke rises from the fire.
Commuters drive on a bridge connecting the barrier island of Seaside Heights, N.J., with the mainland as cloud of smoke rises from the fire.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses the media.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses the media.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Firefighters battle a raging fire on the boardwalk that apparently started in an ice cream shop in Seaside Park, NJ.
Firefighters battle a raging fire on the boardwalk that apparently started in an ice cream shop in Seaside Park, NJ.   (Erik Larsen)
A firefighter saws through a metal wall.
A firefighter saws through a metal wall.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Smoke is seen from a fire on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J.
Smoke is seen from a fire on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J.   (Daniel Radel)
This frame grab from video provided by Fox 29 shows a raging fire in Seaside Park, N.J.
This frame grab from video provided by Fox 29 shows a raging fire in Seaside Park, N.J.   ((AP Photo/Fox 29) MANDATORY CREDIT)
Firefighters battle a raging fire on the boardwalk.
Firefighters battle a raging fire on the boardwalk.   (Kristi Funderburk)
In this aerial image taken from video and provided by Fox 29, firefighters battle the fire in Seaside Park, N.J.
In this aerial image taken from video and provided by Fox 29, firefighters battle the fire in Seaside Park, N.J.   (AP Photo/Fox 29)
Smoke rises in the distance as firefighters battle the boardwalk fire in New Jersey.
Smoke rises in the distance as firefighters battle the boardwalk fire in New Jersey.   (AP Photo/The Asbury Park Press, Erik Larsen)
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