A fire that started yesterday afternoon has destroyed several boardwalk restaurants on the New Jersey shore. According to NJ.com, the fire at the Funtown Amusement Pier began at about 2:05 p.m yesterday and has destroyed some 50 businesses along the boardwalk in Seaside Park and neighboring Seaside Heights. The fire — described as a "multi-alarm" fire that was "raging out of control" — took about six hours to contain. The Funtown Pier had sustained massive damages during Hurricane Sandy and sadly, the section of the pier most affected by the fire had been the section least impacted by the hurricane.
Although the cause is still unclear, the fire appears to have originated near the Kohr's Frozen Custard stand, a 90 year-old business. One man who was working at Kohr's tells NBC 10 Philadelphia that "it appeared as if the smoke was rising from underneath the boardwalk." On their Facebook page, Kohr's writes: "Our hearts are broken. Kohr's Frozen Custard lost all 4 stands to yesterday's fire."
Kuppers French Fries owner Timothy Hussey was at his shop when the fire began. He tells NJ.com that he tried to douse the fire near Kohr's after smelling smoke, but that he was ultimately forced to flee the area. He explains: "My store is finished ... Being at the south end of the boardwalk, our buildings were destroyed almost immediately."
It seems that one restaurant might have made it through the fire. The Saw Mill Cafe posted on Facebook yesterday: "We are still standing and need to make it through the night. Everyone is safe and ok." Reports on the extent of damage at Sawmill vary; WABC reports that the cafe was "engulfed in a huge orange fireball" just before 7 p.m. while NBC 10 Philadelphia quotes Ocean County fire coordinator Brian Gabriel who said in a press conference this morning that the "only building that's not consumed by fire is part of the arcade and the Saw Mill Café." There has not yet been an update on their Facebook page today.
NJ.com has a working list of businesses impacted by the fire. Among the restaurants on the list are: Park Seafood, The Beachcomber, Marucas Pizza, and The Beach Bar. Many of the businesses damaged had not yet reopened after Hurricane Sandy. NJ governor Chris Christie said: "After all the effort and time and resources that we put in to help the folks in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights rebuild, to see this going on ... is just unthinkable." Below, a video from NJ.com:
Video: Scenes of the fire at Kohr's ice cream stand in Seaside Park
· Seaside boardwalk inferno consumes dozens of businesses, leaves locals broken [NJ.com]
· Fire Destroys at Least 80% of Boardwalk in Sandy-Ravaged Jersey Shore Town [NBC 10 Philadelphia]
· All New Jersey Coverage on Eater [-E-]