Shortly before noon today, firefighters continued to douse hot spots within the four block area of the Seaside boardwalk impacted by the massive blaze that broke out around 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
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In a late morning briefing, Governor Chris Christie said that the fire was 95% contained and the investigation, which will involve multiple agencies, will likely last for days. Christie pledged an expeditious demolition and a quick rebuilding of the four block stretch of boardwalk between Seaside Park and Seaside Heights, where a preliminary estimate indicates that about 30 businesses were destroyed.
Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd said shortly after the press conference that three trenches were dug in the boardwalk in an effort to stop the inferno from heading further north, with the last trench along Lincoln Avenue in Seaside Heights stopping the fire.
Boyd said that he immediately knew the blaze was going to spread rapidly.
“I knew right away. I knew right away,” he said. With the coastal environment and tar roofs, it was “a receipe for disaster,” Boyd said.
Walking along Ocean Avenue in Seaside Park and glancing toward what was once the boardwalk, the scene can be best characterized as “apocalyptic,” with white smoke still rising from the smoldering, charred remnants of buildings that once contained a bar, restaurants, ice cream stands, stores, and games of chance.
This particular stretch of boardwalk is noteworthy as having two separate walking areas, with the sound of arcade games, children laughing, and game vendors tempting customers.
A Funtown Pier sign, once serving as a beacon for happy families getting excited about hours on rides before the pier was severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy, remains. (Funtown Pier did not reopen this season.)
Jersey Shore Hurricane News commenters reacted to the image of the scene posted above.
“Looks like doomsday,” said Emily Ann.
Cory Antczak said that “it’s like a nuclear bomb went off.”
Susan Fimiani Lott expressed surprise about the seeing the sign.
“That sign is still standing? That’s amazing,” she said.
Despite the destruction, for a few, the sign symbolizes something much deeper: hope and resiliency.
“It’s a sign that Funtown Pier must come back,” said Shannon Christensen.