Accidental fire ravaged Ocean City boardwalk

A 4-alarm fire that ravaged a popular amusement park and nearby businesses in Ocean City, New Jersey has been deemed accidental.

The January 30 blaze engulfed the Playland’s Castaway Cove arcade and offices, Hamburger Construction Company restaurant and Dairy Queen located on the boardwalk.

The popular amusement park and arcade were among the several businesses that were heavily damaged after a large fire erupted on the Ocean City, New Jersey boardwalk on Saturday, January 30, 2021 at around 7:40 a.m.

Officials revealed that the fire was caused by an undetermined electrical accident that started near the front of the building.

Playland Castaway Cove says it was storing some ride parts in the building for the winter. No one was inside when the fire started, and the city says no one was hurt.

“If anybody knows us, we’re going to come back with something bigger, that’s for sure,” said Brian Hartley, vice president of Playland’s Castaway Cove.

Hartley said the arcade and offices burned down, but the rest of the park was untouched and will reopen this summer. The Ocean City Fire Department responded to the scene, where crews found flames quickly moving through a building structure.

Black smoke was billowing toward the water but firefighters stopped the flames from spreading too far along the boardwalk after a three-block perimeter was established by emergency officials to fight the fire.

Federal and local investigators were able to use a pattern of fire alarms, eyewitness accounts, photos and videos, a detailed excavation of the site and examination of forensic evidence to determine the cause and area of origin for the fire.

“I grew up at Castaway Cove. I’ve been going here since I was like five, so seeing a place like that brings a lot of memories. It’s sad,” said Hailey Walker, who spent her high school summers working there.

She’s one of the hundreds of people who came to the boardwalk to see the damage for herself.

“When people come to Ocean City and the boardwalk, they see Castaway Cove. It’s a joyous place for people. It brings a lot of happiness,” she added.

Police, firefighters, and rescue squads came from more than a dozen shore towns to help.

“This boardwalk will be open, these rides will be open, the amusement park will be open, and the businesses next to it will be open in time for the summer,” said Jody Levchuk, a city councilman who also owns Jilly’s Boardwalk Shops with his family.

Playland Castaway Cove says it was storing some ride parts in the building for the winter. No one was inside when the fire started, and the city says no one was hurt.

“If anybody knows us, we’re going to come back with something bigger, that’s for sure,” said Brian Hartley, vice president of Playland’s Castaway Cove.

Officials said the fire was under control by late Saturday morning, but firefighters remained on the scene working to fully extinguish the blaze.

Officials said a west wind fueled the fire, but likely spared neighboring buildings. Required structural firewalls between properties also worked effectively, they said.


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