SEASIDE PARK, N.J. – A raging fire that apparently started in an ice cream shop spread several blocks down a New Jersey shore boardwalk that was damaged in Superstorm Sandy and was being repaired.
Flames and thick black smoke billowed from a long stretch of the boardwalk Thursday in Seaside Park, and the fire quickly spread north into neighboring Seaside Heights, where the MTV reality series "Jersey Shore" was filmed.
As it continued to rage three hours after it started, authorities said several firefighters and residents were being treated for smoke inhalation. There were no other early reports of any injuries.
"It's raging," said real estate agent Michael Loundy, who works on tourism related projects with the borough of Seaside Heights as he watched fire companies battle the flames. "It is absolutely raging. The wind is blowing something fierce, making it very difficult for firefighters to fight."
He said fire crews were making a stand against the spread of the flames at DuPont Avenue, several blocks north of the boundary with Seaside Park to the south.
The flames were destroying new boardwalk wood that had just been replaced days before Memorial Day weekend as both towns raced to recover from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. Much of the Seaside Heights boardwalk was destroyed, and a roller coaster that plunged off a damaged amusement pier became a defining image of the storm.
"This is another tremendous wrench in the recovery," Seaside Park Mayor Robert Matthies said.
Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd said a section of boardwalk was being removed to create a fire line to keep the blaze from spreading. He said the fire created embers the size of a fist.
The fire is believed to have started in a Kohr's custard shop.