NEPTUNE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Witnesses saidy fire destroyed a former hotel and three adjacent homes in the Ocean Grove section of Neptune Township Friday.

Witnesses said the flames from the four-alarm blaze also damaged three other homes.

Police Sgt. Michael Emmons said the fire was reported around 5:11 a.m. Friday at 27 Atlantic Avenue.

It took hours for firefighters to get the upper hand.

Officials were worried embers would spread the flames to nearby homes and structures in the Victorian-era oceanfront community where dwellings are so close there often isn’t enough room to raise a ladder between homes.

Resident Kenneth O’Neill told the Asbury Park Press “it looked like a plane had hit the house and exploded.”

Police told the newspaper a firefighter was taken to a hospital after a wall collapsed on him.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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