"As soon as this is over, we will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back to work," N.J. Governor Chris Christie said in a press conference Thursday night, hours after a massive fire ignited on the Seaside Park boardwalk, spreading to numerous recently-rebuilt shops and restaurants.
The fire ignited around 2:30 p.m. EDT at Kohr's Frozen Custard, which stood at the end of Seaside Park. As southwesterly winds gusted, the newly-constructed boards had become fuel for the massive blaze, allowing the fire to spread into Seaside Heights and to more than 12 neighboring attractions.
This is the second devastating blow to the two boardwalks this year, after Superstorm Sandy flooded local businesses and washed out many of the area's most well-known tourist attractions in October.
After Sandy, $7.6 million was invested to rebuild the boardwalk in Seaside Heights.
Winds were steady throughout the afternoon and evening Thursday, blowing between 8 and 15 mph. Gusts between 20 and 25 mph occurred at times, fanning the flames and making the blaze more difficult to contain.
Approximately 400 firefighters from across New Jersey battled the fire into the overnight hours. The cause remains under investigation.
"After all the effort and time that went into rebuilding Seaside, to see this going on today is just unthinkable," Christie wrote on Twitter Thursday night. "We will not let these fires destroy the efforts we have made in the 10 months after Sandy."
Firefighters battle a blaze in a building on the Seaside Park boardwalk on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, in Seaside Park, N.J. The fire began in a frozen custard stand on the Seaside Park section of the boardwalk and quickly spread north into neighboring Seaside Heights. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Numerous businesses also took to social media to comment on the harrowing event.
"We thank all of the courageous fire fighters and first responders for putting up such a strong fight yesterday and today. Thoughts and prayers from Casino Pier," the popular park wrote on Facebook.
While Casino Pier sustained no damage, devastation continued for the still-closed FunTown Pier. The park, which did not reopen after Superstorm Sandy, was engulfed in flames Thursday afternoon. The structure eventually collapsed.
Others faced a similar fate, including a boardwalk seafood stop, called Park Seafood. Thursday night, the business posted a photo of a sunny summer day at the eatery. The caption of the photo read, "RIP."
The source of the blaze is still under investigation.
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