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Series of Pops Heard Before Boardwalk Blaze

More than 400 firefighters battle high winds as Seaside Park fire destroys more than 20 businesses.

A fire rips through the Seaside Park boardwalk Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013.
A fire rips through the Seaside Park boardwalk Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013.
A series of pops were heard coming from beneath the boardwalk before Thursday's massive Seaside Park blaze that destroyed more than 20 businesses.

The fire, which broke out at Kohr's Frozen Custard stand at about 2:30 p.m., drew more than 400 firefighters from Ocean, Monmouth, Burlington, Cape May, Union, Mercer and Atlantic counties in addition to the State Police and State Forest Fire Service.

Witnesses told CBS 2 they heard a series of pops coming from beneath the boardwalk attached to the shops before the fire broke out. The witnesses, who worked in the stores near the custard shop, saw flames coming from electrical wires under the boardwalk and then spreading into Kohr's, according to CBS.

One nearby business owner first tried to douse the flames before it spread to Kohr's, according to NJ.com. Timothy Hussey, owner of Kuppers French Fries, said he went back into his store to get some supplies, and by the time he returned, the fire was out of control, NJ.com reported.

Christine Hemingway, who was working inside Kohr's, told NBC Philadelphia she saw smoke coming up from beneath the boardwalk.

"There was a little smoke and then all of a sudden, it got real thick and black," she said.

There were no major injuries reported as of Thursday night, but firefighters were hampered by high, gusty winds.

Seaside Park Councilwoman Nancy Koury told ABC 7 the fire caused millions of dollars in damage and even spread across Ocean Avenue and ignited several small homes and a motel near the boardwalk.

Nearby business owners who had just finished recovering from Superstorm Sandy watched and worried on Thursday as flames engulfed the boardwalk.

Brett Tinstler, who owns Sun King Beach Shop, said he put out two fires outside his shop Thursday before being told to leave, according to NJ.com.

"Right now they’re not able to tell me anything," Tinstler told NJ.com. "They’re saying they’re not sure what is going to happen."

Thursday's blaze was strikingly similar to the one that destroyed the Long Branch Amusement Pier in June 1987, the Asbury Park Press reported.
Joey Joe September 13, 2013 at 09:12 PM
@proud - yep, you're 100% right...
barb September 14, 2013 at 08:20 AM
imagine this happened 2 weeks before it did... bad, real bad. and WHY was the boardwalk permitted to open if the water supply was not at the levels it was before the storm?
Lynn September 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Perhaps the stupid so called SMART METERS were involved as they have been in many "Electrical" fires around the world. God help the poor schlub who gets blamed for arson based on the "Officials" investigating the cause. Fire investigation is extremely flawed and not enough real scientific knowledge and method are involved. Labeling a fire as "Electrical" has come to mean "We don't really know the cause or origin. Many people have been prosecuted for arson based on very faulty investigations.
Sandra Shaw September 15, 2013 at 12:06 PM
I can tell you right now that unions do NOT do shoddy work! Are you crazy????
grmahigold September 18, 2013 at 09:03 AM
ppb told you to replace boxes and wash wires. insurance companies didn't cover wire replacement. this is not, and will not be the only fire caused by this. lucky no one was hurt or killed in this one.


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