The boardwalk fire that destroyed six blocks along the Seaside, New Jersey, shoreline was not even fully put out on Friday as investigators began to search for the cause of the giant blaze.
Detectives began investigating the fire shortly after it started, and were in communication with firefighters and tried to preserve evidence of what may have started the fire. Investigators are also calling on members of the public for pictures or video of when the fire may have begun.
Fire officials say they believe the blaze started near a Kohrs’ Brothers ice cream shop, and witnesses indicate that electrical wires underneath the stand may have started the fire. Still, police investigators have labeled the blaze “suspicious.”
It moved quickly along the boardwalk, destroying close to 50 businesses.
The boardwalk fire hit a part of the New Jersey shore still recovering from Superstorm Sandy. The Funtown Pier, which lost close to 90 percent of its more than 30 rides when the hurricane struck, collapsed due to the fire, NBC Philadelphia reported.
Firefighters said the boardwalk fire spread so quickly that there was nothing they could do to stop it.
“We put all our defenses in place and the fire just came on too hard too fast, and we just couldn’t do anything with it,” Ocean County Chief Fire Coordinator Brian Gabriel told the Today show on Friday morning.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called the fire an “unthinkable situation. Christie added that when he first heard the fire struck an area that received so much work to rebuild after Sandy he said he wanted ‘to throw up.”
More than 400 firefighters responded to the boardwalk fire, which was still not fully put out by Friday morning. To guard against possible flare-ups, firefighters poured water onto parts of the boardwalk still smoking.
“These hot spots are going to be continuing to flare up,” said Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd. “Number one, people don’t realize you’ve got a lot of restaurants that were involved. What’s in restaurants? Cooking oil. So you’ve got a lot of flammable properties that are involved down in deep, and once that tar starts smoldering and catches fire, it’s very hard to put out. So we have crews right now still dousing. It will probably burn at least the next day.”
Firefighters also dug a 20-foot trench to prevent the boardwalk fire from spreading to nearby businesses.