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Published September 13, 2013, 09:15 AM

Light of day reveals fire damage along New Jersey boardwalk

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — “Total Destruction.” That’s how Fire Chief Brian Gabriel describes the scene along four blocks of the Seaside boardwalk that were ravaged by fire Thursday.

By: Kim Lueddeke and Matthew McGrath, The Record

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — “Total Destruction.” That’s how Fire Chief Brian Gabriel describes the scene along four blocks of the Seaside boardwalk that were ravaged by fire Thursday.

From Lincoln to Farragut Avenues. there is nothing left but burned out buildings, some still smoldering.

At a press conference Friday morning, the chief would not confirm how many businesses were destroyed in Thursday’s fire, which ravaged parts of Seaside Heights and Seaside Park.

Power has largely been restored, except for the area directly around where the fire raged Thursday, Gabriel said.

No business owners are being allowed to return yet.

“Absolutely not,” said Gabriel.

One of those owners, Maria Maruca, was on her way there Friday morning with her brothers to see what remained of the family business, Maruca’s Pizza.

“I told them they have 24 hours to feel sorry for themselves,” said Maruca, the former president of the Seaside Heights Business Improvement District.

Thursday night, as Maruca watched the fire, she said that she was “numb.”

“But we just lost buildings,” she said. “We can rebuild those.”

Many of the businesses lost in the fire were family-owned operations that have been on the boardwalk for decades.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, officials said.

The fire was reported about 2 p.m. Thursday and, within 15 minutes, was burning out of control. Fed by the wind, it engulfed businesses along the boardwalk, many of which had just been rebuilt after Sandy. The area was evacuated and no deaths were reported, though firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation.

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