Firefighters from five different Atlantic County companies returned this morning after staying awake throughout the night, helping to put out the devastating boardwalk blaze in Seaside Park.
Longport's fire chief says in all his years of fighting fires, he has never seen one this large. Chief Levon Clayton said, “I think it was controlled chaos is the best way to describe it."
President of the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association, George Heflich Sr., said, told NBC40, "You know, it's scary, and you know for the chiefs…they did a great job to confine that fire. They're lucky - it could have wiped out the whole town."
The devastating and chaotic fire wiped out 4 blocks of boardwalk, and over 30 commercial properties in Seaside Park, Ocean County.
More than 400 firefighters from throughout the state were called to help extinguish the boardwalk flames.
Chief Clayton said, "I think this is the first time that the Longport Volunteer Fire Department ever responded that far into Ocean County to fight a fire." Tim Cook, a firefighter from Ocean County, added, "At points we had companies from all over the state trying to relieve us."
Atlantic County fire officials say they assembled a task force of 42 firefighters to go help Ocean County fire crews.
Local firefighters say after arriving, they relieved their Ocean County counterparts and worked from 10p.m. last ni10 p.m.ntil 8a.m. this morning.
Chief Clayton said, "Everybody from our task force from Atlantic County had never seen a fire of this magnitude."
At the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association's 136th annual convention, thousands of firefighters from across the state of New Jersey came together as one strong community. The president of the association says that in a crisis like the Seaside boardwalk fire, he knows that he could call on any of the departments and they would help in an instant.
Heflich said, "Any one of them - I can rely on any one of them. The best part about being a firefighter is we stick together when there is a serious problem."
Some Ocean County firefighters say the community is still recovering from Sandy and this fire really hurts. Cook said, "Things were finally getting normal and, you know, it's being kicked all the way back again. Where do you start from now?"
Governor Christie said that this tragic fire would not stop the community from coming back stronger than before by saying, "We have endured and begun to come back from the devastation of Sandy. We will not let these fires destroy those efforts."
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