Sandy-hit New Jersey shore town struck by fire
SEASIDE PARK, N.J., Sept 13
SEASIDE PARK, N.J., Sept 13 (Reuters) - A New Jersey beach town devastated by Superstorm Sandy was recovering on Friday after a fast-moving fire seriously damaged its boardwalk.
The blaze started at a frozen custard stand on Thursday, then burned out of control through several blocks as well as the boardwalk, fanned by gusts that reached 40 mph (65 km per hour).
The fire spread into neighboring Seaside Heights, where MTV's reality show "Jersey Shore" was filmed. Seaside Heights' roller coaster fell into the Atlantic Ocean and was partially submerged after Sandy - becoming one of the most memorable images of the storm.
"We're going to go up and do an assessment and put everything back together as soon as possible," Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers said on CNN on Friday. "The good news is that everything has been contained."
Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency and said late Thursday about 20 businesses had been seriously damaged. The cause of the fire was unknown, and there were some minor injuries, he said.
The blaze destroyed businesses over a total of six blocks in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights, officials said. Both communities were badly damaged during Sandy in October 2012.
Some 400 firefighters struggled Thursday night to bring the fire under control and were aided by a late-night rainstorm. Police Chief Francis Larkin told Reuters that fire officials hoped to have the blaze contained by Friday morning.
Seaside Park Mayor Robert Matthies said he was confident that the town of 2,200 people would bounce back from the latest setback.
In Seaside Park, Sandy destroyed virtually all of its boardwalk and its Funtown Pier. A second pier was reduced to twisted wreckage.
Sandy, the second-costliest storm in U.S. history after Hurricane Katrina, devastated the New Jersey coast. The state estimated the damage at $37 billion. (Additional reporting by Ian Simpson; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
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