New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said a wind-swept fire that started Thursday and burned through the state’s iconic boardwalk destroyed “generations of memories,” but vowed that the state would rebuild.
Speaking at a news conference on Friday morning, Christie said it wasn’t yet known what caused the blaze in two shore-side towns. He said that as of Friday morning, the fire was 95 percent contained, but that hot spots could continue to burn for days.
“We are tough, and we stand together in a crisis,” the governor said as he praised hundreds of firefighters who responded to the blaze.
He said the fire that ravaged four blocks and 32 businesses in Seaside Park and adjacent Seaside Heights would not stall rebuilding of the area that had begun after it was damaged by last year’s Superstorm Sandy.
Christie said the fire had taken an “emotional toll.” On Thursday, as firefighters fought back the blaze, he said that after “all the effort and time and resources” that had gone into rebuilding the area following Sandy, “I feel like I want to throw up.”
The Star-Ledger reports:
“Local authorities said the fire began about 2:05 p.m. and was raging out of control within 15 minutes. It would be another six hours before the blaze was contained. …
“No residences would be in affected, he said, but more of the boardwalk could suffer damage. …
“At the height of the blaze, hundreds of firefighters battled one obstacle after another to keep flames from spreading north into Seaside Heights.
“At one point, firefighters battled 30 mph winds and embers the size of small birds. In one desperate measure, public works crews ripped out a 20-foot section of the boardwalk at Lincoln Avenue — near where Seaside Heights meets Seaside Park — to serve as a makeshift fire break, depriving the blaze of fuel.”
Daniel Shauger, manager of Funtown Arcade, told The Associated Press that he’d just reopened June 1, struggled for the summer to remain open, and now, “We’re wiped out again. It’s just unimaginable.”
Shauger said that since Sandy — which filled his arcade with water and sand — business was down by two-thirds.
“It was just enough to survive,” Shauger told the AP. “We were really looking forward to next year. And we’re still looking forward to next year.”