Fire rages on N.J. boardwalk

SEASIDE PARK, N.J. — A fire that started at a New Jersey frozen custard shop in Seaside Park, N.J., and spread to other boardwalk businesses, including FunTown Pier, has now reached Seaside Heights, N.J., police said.

Emergency personnel arrived at the boardwalk in Seaside Park for a report of smoke about 2:30 p.m. A plume of gray smoke stretches as far north as Ortley Beach, N.J., as fire crews fight to douse the blaze. The cause of the fire is still unclear.

The fire that started at Kohr's Frozen Custard quickly compromised buildings on the west side, including what was left of FunTown Pier — the site of the roller coaster that was pushed into the ocean during Superstorm Sandy. A strong wind has worsened the firefighters' attempts, Police Chief Francis Larkin said.

Part of the FunTown Pier building has collapsed.

Seaside Heights firefighters will use construction equipment to remove sections of the town's newly rebuilt boardwalk in hopes of stopping the advance of the blaze, borough administrator John Camera said.

Firefighters are also putting water on buildings and boardwalk in the path of the fire to prevent the fire's spread, Camera said.

"As it continues to burn the boardwalk and out buildings, it is very, very hard to stop. There is so much wood structure up there," he said. "Right now we can't say much other than they are doing their best to contain an out-of-control fire."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is on his way to the fire.

WABC-TV in New York reported that Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd said several firefighters and residents were being treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

The Breaking News Network states the fire has reached six alarms and caused fires at buildings as far as four blocks away.

Officials believe the fire started at the boardwalk near Stockton Avenue, but spread north to Seaside Heights because of the high winds, said Cpl. Steven Shadiack with Seaside Park Police Department.

Three or four stands have been compromised so far, he said.

Seaside Park's boardwalk survived Sandy and did not have to be rebuild like the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, Shadiack said. But the two sections connect.

Larkin said a strong wind has worsened the blaze and sent embers blowing, sparking small but controllable fires elsewhere.

"You can feel it from a block away it's so hot," he said.


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