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7-Alarm Fire Destroys 3 Homes, Damages Several Others in Sea Isle City

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diana-web Diana Rocco
Diana Rocco joined the Eyewitness News team as a general assign...
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SEA ISLE CITY, N.J., (CBS) — A seven-alarm fire ripped through several homes in Sea Isle City on Friday, destroying three of them.

“The heat, it was just atrocious,” neighbor Rich Monkhouse said.

PHOTOS: Firefighters Battle Large Fire in Sea Isle City

Cell phone video shows the flames burning out of control, quickly spreading from one Sea Isle beachfront home to the next.

The fire so intense Rich Monkhouse could feel the heat from the beach where he snapped a picture.

“It was pretty scary,” Monkhouse said. “The center house was gone. The house on the left was almost completely demolished. We watched it collapse and drop.”

“It was incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it,” neighbor James McHugh said. “It was jumping across, it was melting part of the building on the other side of Pleasure Avenue.”

The fire started just before 5 p.m. Friday on the 7800 block of Pleasure Avenue. Within minutes authorities say the wind carried the flames from one home to the next, leveling all three and damaging 11 homes nearby.

“The wind obviously plays a factor in this. They’re right on the beach totally exposed but that was the priority, was to keep the damage where it was,” Lt. Thomas McQuillen of Sea Isle City Police.

Two people inside the third structure were able to evacuate. James McHugh took a video after seeing the fire burning from his home three blocks away.

“It was raging. You could see every once in a while bursts of huge flames and deep black smoke,” McHugh said.

“It was so scary. The wind was really fueling it. It was crazy. I never saw fire move so quickly,” neighbor Collette McHugh said. “I started getting nervous even though we were 12 houses away. I was thinking there’s a good possibility we need to get out.”

The fire could be seen from neighboring Avalon.

(credit: Cindy Webster)

(credit: Cindy Webster)

The seven-alarm fire required aid from 14 towns. Neighbors say two of the homes are seasonal and the owners were out of town. One was newly built.

“The house right there is a brand new house they were still putting in furniture in July,” neighbor Roberta Uniglicht said. “I can’t even imagine what these people are feeling, I  can’t even imagine.”

No one was injured.

Firefighters continued to battle hot spots Friday night.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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