SEASIDE PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Officials in Ocean County, N.J. will monitor the site of the massive fire on the Seaside Park and Seaside Heights boardwalk until Monday evening, after a flare-up erupted.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office said the flare-up occurred at about 2:20 a.m. Sunday in a debris pile on the south end of the boardwalk behind a Seaside Park bar. Fire companies from Seaside Park and Seaside Heights extinguished the fire by 3 a.m.
Fire and emergency management officials are monitoring the fire zone until 6 p.m. Monday and will meet then to decide if further monitoring is necessary.
Meanwhile, the administration of Gov. Chris Christie will also hold a “Mobile Cabinet” Monday at the Seaside Municipal Complex, at 116 Sherman Ave. in Seaside Heights, for those impacted by the fire. Between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., the several state departments will advise residents and business owners on a variety of issues.
Representatives of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, Department of State Business Action Center, and Governor’s Office of Constituent Relations will be on hand, as well as dignitaries from the departments of Banking and Insurance, Environmental Protection, Transportation and Labor & Workforce Development.
The state Department of Human Services will also send out crisis counselors in the Seaside area to provide emotional support for those impacted, Christie’s office said.
The newly-crowned Miss America – Miss New York Nina Davuluri, will also head to Seaside Park and Seaside Heights Monday afternoon to support the reconstruction efforts.
Christie announced Saturday that $15 million would be made available for the rebuilding effort. That money will come from funds created after Sandy.
The fire, which destroyed about 50 businesses over several blocks, raged for eight hours Thursday in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights. Only minor injuries were reported.
As of Sunday night, fire trucks were still spraying water on hot spots at the fire scene. Officials were still investigating the cause, and it had not been determined whether the fire was suspicious or just a tragic accident.
The two popular Jersey shore resort communities had just spent millions of dollars rebuilding their boardwalks, arcade games, pizza stands and bar and grills to be ready for the summer season.
As CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported, many residents from around New Jersey came Sunday to see the scorched landscape of what had seemed their eternally sunny playground.
“I have 51 years of memories of this place,” said Lori Novrit of Lakewood. “It just brings me to tears.”
“It’s very emotional, and someplace we grew up on,” added Tammy Drewes of Beachwood.
The one-two punch of Sandy and the fire sparked disbelief across generations.
“Now that part of it’s destroyed, it just makes me very upset,” said Brielle Berkowitz of Oakland, N.J.
The weight of the pair of disasters that will go down in infamy came just as Seaside Heights celebrated its centennial this weekend.
“Never a thought of wanting to cancel it,” said Seaside Heights Centennial Festival producer Rhyan Sharkey. “It was more personally in support of, you know — how can we make this happen? Let’s do it.”
Centennial Festival organizers reported local officials were determined to keep the celebration alive, even though the planned events for Friday had to be dropped – out of respect.
“We decided to cancel the next day’s program, which was actually supposed to be a bonfire,” Sharkey said.
Meanwhile, among the business owners faced with having to rebuild for the second time in less than a year is Mike Carbone Jr., who owns the Beachcomber Bar N’ Grill in Seaside Heights. Carbonne gave CBS 2’s Langford a tour of the devastation Sunday morning.
“We just put in, I think, eight brand new 50-inch TVs for football season — you know, wiring them all up for all the games,” Carbone said. “And then the next thing you know, they’re all melted off the walls.”
The Beachcomber was known around the country and the world as a regular site for action in the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore.” Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi issued a tweet after the fire destroyed the bar.
“Rip seaside boardwalk. 😞 So many of our favorite places gone…my heart is with everyone affected. Xoxo Beachcomber 🙏❤” Polizzi tweeted.
Among the other iconic venues that were damaged or destroyed in the fire were the Funtown Amusement Pier, the Carousel Arcade, Korh’s Frozen Custard, Jack & Bill’s, and Maruca’s Pizza.
Businesses in the area will face unimaginable challenges trying to rebuild again, while shoregoers will never forget the grim sight. Still, as the cleanup began, a deep-running determination remained to rebuild.
“That’s going to look like that soon it’s going to be back to normal, and we’re going to have a great beach again,” said Mickey Miller of Seaside Heights.
Many in the Jersey Strong community have vowed to rebuild after declaring themselves Stronger Than The Storm they now say they are “Better Than The Blaze”.
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