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Boardwalk Fire Destroys 32 Sandy-Hit Businesses In Seaside Park

By Elizabeth Hur

SEASIDE PARK, N.J., (CBS) -- Fun Town Pier is now just charred debris – a pier that was just rebuilt after being wiped out by Superstorm Sandy less than a year ago.

It's believed the flames broke out at Kohr Brothers, the iconic custard dessert shop, and quickly spread. In fact, the fire moved so aggressively, firefighters had to dig fire lines along the boardwalk from Lincoln Avenue to Stockton Avenue.

Despite the devastation, however, residents and business owners tell Eyewitness News, Seaside Park is one resilient community and they will rebuild.

Tim Hussey said, "We were one of the first buildings to be completely engulfed in flames."

For 17 years, Hussey and his brother ran Kuppers French Fries in Seaside Park. Maruca's Tomato Pies has been around for more than six decades and now, they are among the 32 boardwalk businesses obliterated by the inferno.

"I ran into my store, ran upstairs, got what I could, got downstairs, it was pitch black," Hussey recalled.

Joe Maruca added, "We were open and first we smelled smoke then within a minute or so smoke filled the building, we left as you can see this is the result."

"Hard to take in, especially when you live here," Joseph Guzzi said.

Guzzi, Seaside Heights resident, worked at some of the affected businesses when he was a teenager. He says his heart now aches for those forced to rebuild again.

Hussey said, "We're still dealing issues about Sandy with the store, now we have this fire, so really we don't have a store."

Maruca added, "We had six feet of water in our basement, we rebuilt from that and we're up and running and we did the best we could."

These are business owners who got back on their feet after Sandy left a trail of devastation causing millions in damages. To see this fire storm? Disheartening? Yes but discouraged? Not these guys.

"Well to be quite honest with you, I had prostate cancer two years ago, that didn't beat me. This won't beat me either," Maruca said.

Hussey concluded, "We're from Jersey. We have to keep fighting. You're going to knock us down. You can burn us, flood us, we're fighting back. We'll be back."

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