Boardwalk fire blamed on Sandy-damaged wiring - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Superstorm Sandy

Boardwalk fire blamed on Sandy-damaged wiring

Posted: Updated:

WAYNE PARRY | AP

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) -- The massive fire that destroyed part of a Jersey shore boardwalk and dozens of businesses began accidentally in wiring damaged in Superstorm Sandy, and should prompt coastal property owners to inspect their own equipment for similar danger, officials said Tuesday.

The boardwalk fire in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights began accidentally Thursday in aged wiring that had been compromised by salt water and sand during the Oct. 29 storm, federal and county investigators said at a news conference. The wind-whipped blaze destroyed more than 50 businesses in the two towns.

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said the fire should be a cautionary tale.

"I'm sure on every boardwalk everywhere (at the Jersey shore), there may be compromised wiring," he said. "We don't want to start a panic mode. We just want to be reasonable. If you're a property owner and you think your electrical work came in contact with water and sand, we strongly recommend you have it inspected."

Seaside Heights officials did not immediately return a message seeking comment about the status of wiring in the surviving two-thirds of the boardwalk.

Investigators said the fire began in wiring that dated to the 1970s and was located under a frozen custard stand and candy shop.

Jessica Gotthold, a senior special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said investigators located wires under the boardwalk that somehow came in contact with each other, causing an electrical arc that is believed to have started the fire. Coronato said those wires had been exposed to the storm surge and grating sand action of the storm, which compromised them.

But as far as why the wires contacted each other, he said, "we will never know."

The prosecutor said the investigation ruled out all other possible causes of the fire, including careless smoking or a deliberate act of arson. The wiring was inaccessible to the public, he noted.

Authorities even pulled financial records of the businesses involved in the blaze to make sure no one had a financial motive to start a fire.

"We left no stone unturned," he said. "This was not a suspicious fire."

It was only by destroying part of the 5-month-old boardwalk that Seaside Heights had just spent $8 million to rebuild that the rest of the walkway was saved. Public works crews ripped out a 25-foot swath of boardwalk to serve as a makeshift fire break, depriving the blaze of fuel. They then filled the void with giant sand piles -- makeshift dunes to hold back fire, not water.

The desperation plan worked and stopped the fire from burning the rest of the boardwalk.

Gov. Chris Christie's administration decided the state will use Sandy-recovery money to pay for debris removal. He also pledged $15 million in Sandy money to help rebuild the burned businesses.

Christie said Tuesday the state will let business affected by the fire postpone filing sales and use tax returns that were due this month until Oct. 21 to help them recover.


  • New Jersey NewsNew Jersey NewsMore>>

  • Undercover police officer shot during drug buy in New Jersey

    Undercover police officer shot during drug buy in New Jersey

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 5:45 PM EDT2014-04-22 21:45:36 GMT
    An undercover narcotics police officer was shot during a shootout with a suspect in a parking lot in Bergen County, N.J., Tuesday afternoon, according to a source. The shooting happened at about 1:45 p.m. at a Walmart and Marshalls shopping center in Garfield. The cop was hot in the hip and ankle, and was taken into surgery at Hackensack University Hospital, the source said.
    An undercover narcotics police officer was shot during a shootout with a suspect in a parking lot in Bergen County, N.J., Tuesday afternoon, according to a source. The shooting happened at about 1:45 p.m. at a Walmart and Marshalls shopping center in Garfield. The cop was hot in the hip and ankle, and was taken into surgery at Hackensack University Hospital, the source said.
  • Hoboken a top place for recent college grads to live, report says

    Hoboken a top place for recent college grads to live, report says

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 12:46 PM EDT2014-04-22 16:46:32 GMT
    Hoboken's vibrant downtown, access to more than 100,000 job openings and the large amount of rentals available rank the city among the best places for new college grads to live in the country, according to Livability.com. Hoboken ranked No. 6 in Livability.com's recently released list of the "Top 10 Best Cities for New College Grads 2014."
    Hoboken's vibrant downtown, access to more than 100,000 job openings and the large amount of rentals available rank the city among the best places for new college grads to live in the country, according to Livability.com. Hoboken ranked No. 6 in Livability.com's recently released list of the "Top 10 Best Cities for New College Grads 2014."
  • Melissa Gorga: RHONJ season 6 is a 'whole new show'

    Melissa Gorga: RHONJ season 6 is a 'whole new show'

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 12:46 PM EDT2014-04-22 16:46:02 GMT
    Melissa Gorga says the upcoming season 6 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey will be a “whole new show,” according to a report on allthingsrh.com. The Franklin Lakes resident opened up about the new season – which will be sans longtime cast members Jacqueline Laurita and Caroline Manzo – at The Tampa Home And Garden Show, the report said.
    Melissa Gorga says the upcoming season 6 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey will be a “whole new show,” according to a report on allthingsrh.com. The Franklin Lakes resident opened up about the new season – which will be sans longtime cast members Jacqueline Laurita and Caroline Manzo – at The Tampa Home And Garden Show, the report said.
Powered by WorldNow

25 FOX Drive
Dedham, MA 02026

Phone (781) 467-2525

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices