National News

Sep 13, 2013 5:15 PM by NBC News

New Jersey boardwalk fire destroys dozens of businesses

Authorities asked the public for any photos or videos that may have captured the early stages of the roaring boardwalk fire that tore through at least four blocks of New Jersey shoreline, even as ruins continued to smolder in the two towns staggered by Superstorm Sandy.

Detectives met right after the fire started on Thursday, Al Della Fave, a spokesperson with the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, told NBC News. They were in communication with firefighters throughout the course of the fire regarding how to preserve possible evidence at the scene. Investigators are asking the public for any photos or other evidence that captured the area either before the start of the fire or immediately after, Della Fave said, and are interested in finding out who was in the area around that time.

Gov. Chris Christie said it would be "irresponsible to speculate" concerning the cause of the fire at a press briefing on Friday morning. A team including members of the Ocean County Prosecutor's office, the county fire marshal and sheriff, state police, and arson and bomb investigators would investigate what sparked the flames.

"The investigation will likely take days, at which point the scene can then be turned over to the property owners," Christie said, adding that the fire was about 95 percent contained. "I'm not going to speculate and there's no import that should be drawn from the identity of the investigators or the numbers. This is typical."

Among the dramatic images caught on camera was the collapse of a remaining section of Funtown Pier, which lost an estimated 90 percent of its more than 30 rides when the wind and waves of Sandy crashed ashore, according to NBC Philadelphia. The image of Seaside Heights' Jet Star rollercoaster swept into the sea circled the world after the devastating 2012 storm.

The Funtown pier was among the buildings refurbished after the storm, but "we saw that burnt to the ground last night and finish the job that Sandy started," Christie said.

"We lost a place that has provided generations of memories to our citizens. We will rebuild, we'll make new memories for our families, because that's what we do," Christie said. "I will not permit all the work that we've done over the last 10 months to be diminished or destroyed by what happened last night."

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