Investigators were sifting Saturday through ashes to determine the cause of a blaze that obliterated much of a Jersey shore boardwalk less than a year after it was torn apart by Superstorm Sandy.
"No one at the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office has labeled the fire suspicious," said Al Della Fave, director of public affairs at the Ocean County Prosecutors Office. "Our only comment is that the investigation continues. There will be no more additional comments or releases, until the investigation is complete."
Minor rekindling of the fire in Seaside Park occurred overnight, but posed little danger, he said. "This is to be expected. On-scene units have the fire contained and are staying on top of minor flare ups."
The massive swath of boardwalk damaged in the fire had been freshly rebuilt after Sandy wrecked it last October.
Hundreds of firefighters worked for nine hours before getting the fire under control Thursday night.
Dozens of businesses were destroyed in the fire, Gov. Chris Christie told reporters Friday. Officials earlier noted that other structures were damaged when winds carried embers from a frozen custard shop, where they believe the fire started, up the boardwalk to a condominium complex, pier and an arcade, city and county officials said.
There was a firefighter convention in Wildwood, 90 miles south, at the time, so roughly 400 firefighters from 30 towns -- many of them volunteer units -- responded, Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers said Friday.
Had they not been nearby, the damage could have extended beyond six blocks of boardwalk in Seaside Park and two blocks in Seaside Heights, he said, estimating that reconstruction costs will reach the millions.
Upon first seeing the damage Thursday, Christie said, "I feel like I want to throw up."
He added, "After all the effort and time and resources that we've put in to help the folks in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights rebuild. To see this going on ... is just unthinkable."
The Seaside Heights boardwalk was in the public eye shortly after Superstorm Sandy blew its famous Jet Star roller coaster into the water last year. The coaster was removed from the ocean in May, shortly before the boardwalk reopened for business.
On Thursday, firefighters ripped out the boardwalk at Lincoln Avenue in time to create a fire line that saved much of Seaside Heights from the fate that befell neighboring Seaside Park.
They dug a 20-foot trench where the street met the boardwalk to keep the brisk winds from further spreading the flames, Christie said Thursday.
But the destruction south of Lincoln Avenue was total, he said.
Town officials plan to meet with business owners and help them rebuild, said Seaside Park Town Administrator Robert Martucci.
Akers added that the town will also assess the damage.
"If there's a silver lining, we just built it. We have the specs. We know what we're doing," the mayor said. "We'll get it back up."
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