New Jersey Boardwalk Businesses Destroyed by Fire
The boardwalk community at the Sea Heights community in New Jersey is facing a difficult recovery
following a fire that burned 50 businesses over six blocks in Ocean County and Seaside Park. The
recovery is especially difficult for the community, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy a year
ago. The fire, the cause of which is unknown, started on Thursday afternoon and was fully contained on
Friday. Some people had minor injuries, and firefighters were putting out hot spots on Sunday after a
flare-up during the afternoon.
Many businesses which are very symbolic and beloved within the Funtown Amusement Pier were
damaged or destroyed. Residents from the area came to see the fire and lament about the damage to the
place where they made many childhood memories. Damaged businesses include Maruca's Pizza, Korh's
Frozen Custard, Carousel Arcade, Jack & Bill's and more.
400 firefighters battled the eight hour fire. Some of them experienced smoke inhalation and heat
exhaustion. The fire started at Korh's at 2:15 pm at 1800 Boardwalk on Thursday. An hour later,
explosions were heard. Winds blowing at 30 to 40 miles per hour spread the fire to nearby condos and
to more businesses. The pier and nearby residential communities were evacuated. By 4 pm, the fire
was at six alarms. It was difficult to obtain water to fight the fire because of damage to the water
system during Sandy. In addition to firefighters, 15 ladder companies, special services and 35 engine
companies worked against the fire.
Ocean County Fire Coordinator Brian Gabriel said, “We had fire embers burning under the boardwalk,
we had fire embers up in the smoke column going down several blocks and landing and starting
additional fires. It was a worst case scenario for a boardwalk fire here.” Additionally, a flare-up in a
pile of debris on Sunday requires monitoring throughout the day on Monday until 6 pm by firefighting
Governor Chris Christie has announced that $15 million from Sandy funds will go towards rebuilding
the boardwalk. His administration will also be holding a Mobile Cabinet on Monday to address people
who have lost their businesses in the fire and to make recommendations to everyone in the area. It will
take place at the Seaside Municipal Complex from 3 pm to 6 pm. The Environmental Protection
department, Banking and Insurance department, Transportation department, Labor & Workforce
Development, New Jersey Economic Development Authority, Governor's Office of Constituent
Relations and Department of State Business Action Center will be present. Additionally, crisis
counselors from the Department of Human Services will be present in the area to assist residents.
Authorities continue to investigate the cause. The fire may have been accidental but it is currently
unclear what started it. Christie said, “This is obviously just an unthinkable situation for us to be
standing here and watching this, what's going on behind all of you, is just unthinkable.” The pier also
celebrated its Centennial Festival this weekend.