A massive fire set a large section of the Seaside Park, New Jersey boardwalk ablaze on Thursday.
Smoke plume from the Seaside Park, NJ boardwalk fire is huge pic.twitter.com/hqqvQeIjpo
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) September 12, 2013
A six-alarm fire was reported at 2:30 p.m. at a Kohr's ice cream store and spread to many other buildings along the boardwalk.
Around 7 p.m., it was updated to a 10-alarm fire.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie held a press conference late Thursday to address the situation.
"This is obviously an unthinkable situation. Right now we have firefighters and trucks from all around NJ working together," he said, adding that over 400 firefights were on scene.
Christie said that "there have been several minor injuries to firefighters," such as heat exhaustion.
The governor urged New Jersey residents not to come to the boardwalk until all is clear.
"Do not come here," he said. " I ask you to stay away from the boardwalk until you hear from authorities it is safe."
The cause of the fire is unknown.
According to NJ.com, the same boardwalk recently underwent "major repairs earlier this year after Hurricane Sandy destroyed most of it."
No serious injuries were reported, but the blaze destroyed all 32 businesses on the Seaside Park portion of the boardwalk, borough Councilwoman Nancy Koury told The Associated Press. An undetermined number of additional boardwalk businesses in Seaside Heights also were burned.
The fire burned eight blocks: four on either side of the two towns' border, Matthies said.
"We're going to be here for several days," one firefighter said as he rushed toward the flames. A line of powerful thunderstorms that battered part of New Jersey swung north of Seaside Park, offering no help to some 400 firefighters battling the flames.
The livelihoods of the two popular Jersey shore resort communities depend on summer tourism and they had just spent millions of dollars rebuilding their boardwalks, arcade games, pizza stands and bar and grills to be ready for the summer season.
"It's devastating; I've been crying all afternoon," said Shirley Kreszl, who has rented a summer home in Seaside Park for decades. "Haven't we been hit enough? We try to rebuild and just when we think we saved a little bit of our town, this happens. It's just not fair."
Gov. Chris Christie, who raced to the fire scene, was typically blunt describing his thoughts as he approached the blaze.
"I feel like I want to throw up," he said.
Koury said the fire caused several million dollars' worth of damage. At one point, she said, flames jumped across Ocean Avenue, the oceanfront street, and ignited two or three small houses but firefighters quickly doused them. A motel near the boardwalk also was engulfed in flames.
For hours, two boardwalk businesses, an arcade and the popular Saw Mill Cafe, escaped the flames. But shortly before 7 p.m. the arcade was engulfed in a huge orange fireball that rolled into the darkening sky, and flames licked against the side of the Saw Mill; it could not immediately be determined how badly damaged the cafe was.
"I can't believe this is happening," Koury said as she watched the flames devour boardwalk structures. "Our small business people went through so much in the storm to get ready for summer and stay open all summer, and now it's all gone. I just can't believe it."
Officials said the fire got underneath the boardwalk, making it even more difficult to extinguish.
"It's underneath the boards, and its coming up through the cracks," Koury said. "It's making it harder to get water on it."
Matthies said the businesses were primarily wood with tar roofs and shingles, which accelerated the fire.
In Seaside Heights, real estate agent Michael Loundy, who works with the borough on tourism related projects, was pained as he watched firefighters make a stand against the flames on DuPont Avenue, several blocks from the Seaside Park border.
"It's raging," he said "It is absolutely raging. The wind is blowing something fierce, making it very difficult for firefighters to fight."
This is a developing story...