SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Authorities are still trying to determine what caused a massive fire that destroyed three beachfront condominium buildings in a Jersey Shore community and damaged about a dozen surrounding properties (read related story).

No injuries were reported in the seven-alarm fire, which broke out shortly before 5 p.m. Friday in the 7800 block of Pleasure Avenue in Sea Isle City. It was brought under control about two hours later.

Multiple fire companies battled the blaze, but their efforts were hampered by strong, gusty winds that fanned the flames and spewed out thick, black smoke that could be seen for miles.

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

Officials say dozens of people came to the scene Saturday to see the damage and take photos. Three homes were leveled and 11 others were damaged by the blaze.

“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 required aid from 14 towns. Neighbors say two of the homes destroyed were  seasonal and the owners were out of town. One was newly built.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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