Gus Bruno has worried about a fire at the Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City, N.J. since the building was shut down over a year ago. The Scarsborough Inn, which he runs with his wife Carol, is less than a block away away. “If a fire started in that building, and the wind was blowing in our direction, I knew it wouldn’t be good,” he said.
It wasn’t. On Friday morning during demolition of the building, a welder’s blowtorch allegedly sparked a 10-alarm fire.
“We had closed the windows and doors, but we could still smell it and taste it. We could see smoke filtering through the building,” he said.
When his manager saw that cinders from the fire were landing on the inn’s roof, Bruno made the decision to evacuate the building, telling guests to pack up everything and leave. The staff took out the inn’s computer systems and relocated to an area that still had power so they could call guests coming down for the weekend to let them know the inn was shut down.
As we spoke on Tuesday morning, Bruno watched a cleaning crew wipe down the ceiling and the walls in the lobby. The inn itself wasn’t damaged, but after the fire, everything was covered in dust and soot.
“They are going from top to bottom, floor to floor, room to room, and cleaning and sanitizing everything,” he said. They lost last weekend – a big one with the MS City to Shore Bike Ride and Ocean City Half Marathon – but are planning to be open this weekend, their last weekend of the season.
“Fortunately, no one got hurt, and that’s the important thing,” he said. But he’d rather not re-live the experience during the 2013 season.
(Video courtesy of YouTube member mmg19681)