Search For Answers Begins After Seaside Boardwalk Blaze - KMSP-TV

Search For Answers Begins After Seaside Boardwalk Blaze

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SEASIDE PARK, N.J. -

"We have to rebuild this place," Gov. Chris Christie said Friday.

As the smoke finally cleared from the devastating fire that consumed block after block of the boardwalk in Seaside Park, the governor had a promise.

"We have endured and begun to come back from the devastation of Sandy, we will not let these fires destroy those efforts," he told reporters at a morning press conference just off the boardwalk.

Seaside Park and neighboring Seaside Heights awoke from the nightmare of dozens of boardwalk businesses destroyed, millions of dollars in damage and now another long struggle to recover after Super Storm Sandy left destruction in her wake almost a year ago.

"I was using the Terminator movie. If you look at it, it's scorched earth," said Mayor Bill Akers of Seaside Heights, where half a dozen boardwalk businesses were destroyed .

"Memories ya know. Memories gone," Linda LaCugna told FOX 29. She raised her family on this section of the boardwalk. She was moved to tears by the destruction.

"This was the last part, the last part of the original boardwalk," she said while she wiped away tears.

"I know there are a lot of questions about how this fire started," Christie said. "We don't know yet."

Fire investigators arrived on scene looking for the cause of the roaring inferno that tore through these businesses. High winds and tar roofs helped spread the fire quickly.

It reportedly started near the Kohr's custard shop and raced down the boardwalk.

"They're going to look at the entirety of the scene. They look first for that point of origin, search for accelerants and then piece together what they have," said Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, which is leading the investigation.

Fire officials credited the decision to tear up a section of the new boardwalk in Seaside Heights for helping stop the fire in its tracks. They called it a "fire trench."

"They said this is the line in the sand. This is what we're doing and they stopped it right there," Akers told FOX 29.

There were reports of water problems fighting the fire. They were quickly shot down.

"The hydrant system worked fine so lets just get that straight," said Fire Chief Brian Gabriel from Ocean County.

"This thing was out of control, we had 30 mile an hour winds," Akers explained. "We needed to wet everything, so you had to go to mother nature."

Christie, meanwhile, vowed to fight on.

"The state of New Jersey will stand with the local governments and the business owners to restart the rebuilding as soon as possible," he said.

"It will be nice to rebuild, but it's just not the same," La Cugna said.

Fire officials say they will probably be putting out hot spots throughout the weekend.

Fire investigators have already begun preserving evidence at the scene. They asked the public to surrender any photos or videos at the beginning of the fire.

They also want to interview anyone who was near that Kohr's Custard shop when the fire began.

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