Massive condo fire in Ocean Grove burns at least 7 buildings
NEPTUNE TOWNSHIP — An early morning fire burned a multi-level condo in Ocean Grove and several other homes early Friday morning.
Neptune Township Police Captain Michael McGhee said a total of seven structures were affected by the five-alarm fire that started in the vacant Warrington Rest Home, and then spread to the abandoned La Pierre Condominiums, the Marlboro condominium building, and three single-family homes.
The buildings are next to Wesley Lake, on Beach Avenue between Spray and Seaview avenues, six blocks from the Ocean Grove Auditorium.
All the occupants of the Marlboro and the homes are accounted for without injury, according to McGhee, who was not sure if any squatters were inside the La Pierre. Two firefighters were also injured, including one who suffered chest pains.
Neptune Township Business Administrator Vito Gadaleta told New Jersey 101.5 the fire was brought under control around 10:30 a.m.but firefighters were still looking for hot spots. Mutual aide companies have been released from the scene, according to Gadaleta.
An access plan is being developed so residents can get back into their condo units to get their belongings out, according to Gadaleta, but no one will be allowed to stay.
The Red Cross is helping those who may need temporary shelter, according to spokeswoman Diane Concannon, and is at St. Paul's Church located at 80 Embury Ave. in Ocean Grove. The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association opened its Community Room for those needing shelter as well.
All power to the area has been cut off by JCP&L, according to Gadaleta, who said utilities are working to restore electric, water and gas service to the homes unaffected by the fire..
McGhee said firefighters did a "phenomenal job" of preventing the fire from spreading, further noting that Ocean Grove is a very tight area with buildings close together and often connected, and an entire city block could have gone up in flames.
Route 71 between Route 33 and Springwood Avenue was closed to use as a staging area, while Beach Avenue and Seaview Avenue in Ocean Grove were both closed early Friday because of the fire.
Crews from Asbury Park and Neptune Township were assisting with the fire, along with companies from Allenhurst, Bradley Beach, Avon-By-The-Sea, Middletown, Rumson, Wannamassa, Neptune EMS and the Monmouth County Pipeline.
Witness Bud McCormick said at least 30 fire trucks were on the scene.
Witness Lisa Cox commented on the Jersey Shore Hurricane News Facebook page that her mother saw people running out with their pets.
Townsquare New Jersey Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said winds Friday were not nearly as strong as on Thursday, "but they're not calm either, so that could contribute to the spread of the fire and the smoke."
Zarrow said that early on Friday morning in Monmouth County, winds are out of the west-northwest, sustained at 10 mph, with gusts up to about 20.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, Monmouth County Fire Marshall, and Neptune Township Fire are all investigating the fire to determine a cause.
Vin Ebenau contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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