Seaside Heights Fire Destroys Homes and Businesses

By Camille H, Parent Herald September 13, 12:52 pm

A raging fire at Seaside Heights destroys 32 business establishments and nearby homes on Thursday, according to Staten Island.

Workers were seen racing to contain the blaze's advance ripped up stretches of walkway only recently replaced in the wake of super storm Sandy. This last ditch effort to save the heart of the town's tourism and its very economic survival appeared to have worked.

Two hours after public works crews ripped out a 25-foot swath of boardwalk that had been hurriedly rebuilt for a visit to Seaside Heights by Prince Harry in May, the flames had not advanced past the break. Heavy equipment filled the breach with tall walls of sand to form makeshift dunes holding back not waves but fire.

"So far, so good," said Robert Matthies, the mayor of neighboring Seaside Park, where the blaze began around 2:30 p.m. The blaze remained out of control as of 8:30 p.m. but firefighters reported some progress in containing it.

The 6-alarm blaze began in a frozen custard stand on the Seaside Park portion of the boardwalk and fanned by 15-20 mph winds from an approaching storm system, quickly spread north into Seaside Heights, the boardwalk town where the MTV series "Jersey Shore" was filmed -- and where the October storm famously plunged a roller coast into the ocean.

No serious injuries were reported, but the blaze destroyed all 32 businesses on the Seaside Park portion of the boardwalk, borough Councilwoman Nancy Koury told the Associated Press. An undetermined number of additional boardwalk businesses in Seaside Heights also were burned.

The fire burned eight blocks: four on either side of the two towns' border, Matthies said. "We're going to be here for several days," one firefighter said as he rushed toward the flames. A line of powerful -thunderstorms that battered part of New Jersey swung north of Seaside Park, offering no help to some 400 firefighters battling the flames.

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