More Than 50 Businesses Destroyed In Seaside Fire - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

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More Than 50 Businesses Destroyed In Seaside Fire

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SEASIDE PARK, N.J. -

Firefighters are still struggling with hotspots on the boardwalk which went up in flames in New Jersey.

Fire officials say all 32 businesses in Seaside Park are damaged or destroyed along with another 20 or more in Seaside Heights, the next town up.

The fire raged for about eight hours Thursday before being brought under control, and it continued to burn into the morning.

Investigators say it started near a custard stand in Seaside Park, and they don't know if the fire was accidental.

These communities are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy last year.

An investigation into the cause of Thursday fire, which began in a Seaside Park custard shop, is under way.

FOX 29's Steve Keeley reported Friday morning from the scene that investigators, along with an accelerant-sniffing black Labrador retriever, are starting to sift through the debris.

During a news conference Friday morning, Gov. Chris Christie said more than 400 firefighters and 70 trucks fought the fire that began at 2:30 p.m. Thursday and spread quickly due to 30 mph winds and tar roofs.

At about 11 p.m., the fire was brought under control, thanks to a stand set up at Lincoln and Ocean avenues. Part of the boardwalk had to be torn up.

By late Friday morning, the fire was reported to be 95 percent contained. Nearly 100 firefighters remained on-site to put out still-smoldering area and make sure the area is safe. This will continue for days, the governor said.

Businesses were destroyed, but the damage was confined to commercial properties, except for a fire that started on the roof of a condo complex, That was quickly put out.

There were several minor injuries, including those to three police officers who fell from a National Guard truck, two of them landing on their heads, Christie said.

There is no reason to suspect arson at this point, the governor added. Investigators always treat these situations as crime scenes.

The investigation team is being headed by Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, working with the local fire marshal, sheriff, an arson and bomb unit, state investigators and the ATF, among other agencies.

Several community affairs agencies will be in town for the next few days to help businesses with demolition and planning to rebuild. But the clean-up and rebuilding process will not begin until a cause is determined.

The governors of New York and Connecticut governors offered help, but Christie said New Jersey has it under control. He also said there was a call from the White House.

Christie vowed that the community will rebuild, saying the work completed in the aftermath of Sandy should and will not be diminished. He pledged to cut as much red tape as possible to help the reconstruction happen quickly.

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