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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.
BN September 12, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Shoddy union electrical work.
john doe September 12, 2013 at 09:55 PM
christie's britches
John Wayne September 12, 2013 at 10:54 PM
BN, It has nothing to do with the unions. Shoddy work is being done in general. Anything to save a buck and cut corners. What was electrical extension cords doing under the boardwalk
Thomas A. Blasi September 12, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Consider this: Most businesses on the boardwalk especially those that prepare food use gas similar to the gas containers we use to fuel our backyard BBQs only larger and a different kind of gas. I’m hypothesizing that gas was the cause and all shore boardwalk communities should be prohibited from using it. These gas containers, even when the fire was in full force were exploding and spreading the fire even further. Just my opinion.
Anthony T. September 13, 2013 at 07:17 AM
Damn, why do people take every chance they can to take a shot at union workers with no proof? As John said, shoddy work be it union or non-union is still shoddy work. I wish I had the backing of some unions, some actually look out for their workers instead of their own bottom line. As far as the propane tanks, a hookup to a natural gas line would perhaps have been no better here, fuel is fuel, until the gas is shut off. At least the propane tanks are contained somewhat.
Charles E. Higgins Sr. September 13, 2013 at 07:28 AM
Let's let the investigators do their jobs instead of speculating on what caused the fire. If extensions cords were used below the board walk I doubt a union electrician did that! Often these business owners install their own stuff or have family do it. Shoddy craftmanship may be the cause. Time will tell.
grmahigold September 13, 2013 at 08:13 AM
we dont know the cause yet but i would check salt water damaged wires from last year's storn. i couldn't believe towns and insurance co.'s were tell people and biz's to wash instead of replace. saltwater and copper dont mix well and eventually will cause problems.penny wise and dollar foolish.
suz September 13, 2013 at 08:22 AM
Maruca...you need a life. The more I read your comments, the more I realize that you are just plain ole crazy.
Denise Di Stephan (Editor) September 13, 2013 at 08:41 AM
Is the Seaside fire making you mourn the places where your childhood memories were made? Are you worried about whether the businesses and towns can rebuild again? Blog about it! Email me if you are interested. denise.distephan@patch.com
shorefriend September 13, 2013 at 08:45 AM
maruca shut up, move far away you hate this place so much, I am devastated
Wayne L September 13, 2013 at 08:55 AM
It's just plain sad that so many negative comments are being thrown at Unions, Politicians, Judges, Lawyers, electricians, business owners etc.! I can't wait to find out what really happened and hope that all the morons who blamed everyone and everything come back here and own up to their blaming and bashing! Sad part is that the fire is still burning, unreal!!
Vanhiesen September 13, 2013 at 09:06 AM
Why not just put the dunes back and forget about all the money making shanty's blocking the view.
proud September 13, 2013 at 09:09 AM
Failed_in_the_Ward isn't crazy. Delusional? That's a different story.
tom e gunn September 13, 2013 at 07:10 PM
As another comment said, copper and salt water and the evening mist don't mix. All the lines are under the boardwalk. Natural gas runs under there too, and I know that for a fact. I ran a business from 1990 until 1996 right across from where the blaze started, until I moved to the north end.
proud September 13, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Actually, the steel connecting devices and metal fittings and boxes exposed to salt water present a far greater risk than the copper wire itself.
Joey Joe September 13, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Just have to wonder - given that many things were replaced in such a short time after Sandy you just have to wonder if there weren't corners cut to get the job done as fast as possible... If the report of popping sounds are true, I wouldn't think that propane tanks would be the cause...they would go boom not pop. As proud says metal boxes, metal conduit and junction boxes are far more susceptible to salty, damp environments than copper. Who know - in haste to get the job done before the summer cover(s) to electrical boxes may have inadvertently not been applied in all cases.... guess we'll find out when the investigators can get in there...
proud September 13, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Joey, look inside a wire nut. There is a cheap little spring looking device that secures the connection. Add a little salt--rust--heat it up -- and, look out.
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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