Guv: Fire won't doom Seaside
They included an arcade where New Jersey's governor played Skee Ball with his wife and kids. There were three frozen custard shacks, games of chance, and stores where tourists could buy naughty T-shirts.
And now they're gone, reduced to smoldering ruins by a spectacular fire that engulfed more than four blocks of a Jersey Shore boardwalk that had been rebuilt just five months ago after being destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
The cause of Thursday's blaze was under investigation, although prosecutors said they had seen no evidence it was suspicious.
Three police officers leaving the fire scene were injured yesterday morning when they fell from an emergency vehicle; two suffered head injuries. A county spokesman said the officers were "stable and recovering."
Gov. Chris Christie, as he did just after the Oct. 29 storm, vowed the two towns would rebuild.
"I will not permit all the work we've done over the last 10 months to be diminished or destroyed by what happened last night," he said, standing across the street from a still-smoldering pizza shop and a gutted arcade that he used to patronize with his family."
President Obama praised the first responders who helped fight the fire and pledged support for state and local efforts to rebuild and recover again.
Christie said about 30 businesses were destroyed, although authorities in the two towns said Thursday night more than 50 businesses had been wrecked, including 32 in Seaside Park and more than 20 in Seaside Heights.
Seaside Park officials began to plan yesterday morning to rebuild their part of the boardwalk, at the southern end, where the fire began near a frozen custard stand. Most of the boardwalk shared by the two towns was still intact.
Bob Martucci, the borough administrator, said it would cost $600,000 to rebuild the borough-owned boardwalk. Individual businesses would not be included in that cost, he said.