Reporting Jim Melwert
By Jim Melwert, Cleve Bryan
SEASIDE PARK, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey governor Chris Christie paid a visit this morning to Seaside Park, where a ten-alarm fire destroyed dozens of businesses overnight, most of whom were still working to recover from Hurricane Sandy (see related story).
“This situation here you can see where we removed the fire source and the fuel load, and we were able to dump heavy water at the fire and contain it there,” said Chief Brian Gabriel of Seaside Park Fire Department.
“As these buildings collapse, it sometimes hides what they call hot pockets underneath the debris,” Christie said. “And as that debris is removed, those hotspots can flare.”
Firefighters continued to spray smoldering hot spots along the boardwalk. Once those hotspots are taken care of, Christie says, fire investigation teams will do their job.
“I know there are a lot of questions as to how this fire started. We don’t know yet, and it would be irresponsible for any of us to speculate,” he said.
It’s really, really a tragedy. It was just like everything was just starting to snap back into place and then we got this,” resident Elisa Hewson said.
Christie says he will work to make sure any red tape that may slow the rebuilding is cleared. He says he won’t allow all the work that has been done over the past ten months to be diminished by last night’s blaze.
He also says that if firefighters hadn’t dug the trench into the boardwalk at Lincoln Avenue, the entire boardwalk could have gone up.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office is leading the fire investigation and they told Eyewitness News they have had some people on the ground, sorting through the scene looking for two things. They want to find the point of origin and any signs of accelerant, if in fact there was any suspicious activity connected to this fire.