The massive fire that destroyed part of an iconic New Jersey shore boardwalk in two towns is 95 percent contained, officials said Friday.
About 100 firefighters remain on the boardwalk in Seaside Park and neighboring Seaside Heights, trying to control hot spots after a boardwalk rebuilt following Superstorm Sandy was reduced to smoldering remains by a fire Thursday afternoon.
The firefighters are continuing to pour thousands of gallons of water on the smoldering remnants of the massive fire. It could take days to extinguish the "hot pockets," Gov. Chris Christie said. Heavy equipment is poised to move in and start poking through the rubble once firefighters extinguished the last burning pockets.
More than 400 firefighters responded to the fire, which raged for eight hours, destroying about five blocks of boardwalk, leveling 32 businesses in Seaside Park and crossing the town line into Seaside Heights.
"It's piles of rubble. "It's piles of just char and debris, caved-in buildings, no walls, no roofs," Chief Brian Gabriel, Seaside Park Fire Dept. "It just looks like a bomb went off."
Strong winds hampered firefighters' efforts, fanning the flames and sending thick plumes of black smoke high into the air. If the fire had not been stopped at Lincoln Avenue, Gabriel said there is no telling how much destruction the fire would have brought.
Embers also sparked small fires at the Casino Pier amusement park that was damaged badly by Sandy last year, Gabriel said.
"We will rebuild," Christie said during a news conference at the scene Friday. "We will make new memories for our families because that's what we do."
Investigators have still not determined what sparked the massive fire. The Ocean County prosecutor's office is leading a multi-agency investigation, said Christie.