A blaze that continues to burn out of control along the boardwalk in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights is being battled by 400 firefighters from across New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie said during a news conference just feet from the boardwalk.
Christie said 20 businesses have been destroyed, one apartment building was damaged and the flames were stretching from the end of the boardwalk in Seaside Park north to Lincoln Avenue in Seaside Heights, where a 20 foot-deep trench has been dug in an attempt to stop the fire from continuing its destructive trek north.
"The wind just one of the major major problems right now," said Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd.
Strong south winds sent the fire whipping up the just-rebuilt boardwalk, which was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy in Oct. 2012.
Power has been shut off to the blocks surrounding the fire, and New Jersey Natural Gas crews were also on scene, as well as the state fire marshall and fire officials from around New Jersey.
In all, 35 engines, 15 ladders and 400 firefighters were on scene, Christie said. They came from as far as Cape May, Burlington and Union counties, though nearly every fire department in Ocean County was playing a part as well.
Water was being pumped directly from Barnegat Bay into fire hoses, Christie said.
Christie pleaded with the public not to enter the area of the fire on foot or by vehicle.
"My admonition to you is not to come here," said Christie, sternly.
Christie said he toured the scene before addressing the media.
"I said to my staff, 'I feel like I want to throw up,'" he said.
Firefighters on scene said they expect to continue battling the flames all night long.