No cause yet in 7-alarm Sea Isle City fire

Watch the report from Action News' Annie McCormick
April 19, 2014 9:06:17 PM PDT
Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a 7-alarm fire that destroyed several properties in Sea Isle City, New Jersey.

The fire broke out just after 4:30 p.m. Friday in the 7800 block of Pleasure Avenue.

Witnesses say within minutes it went from what appeared to be just smoke coming from one of the condominium beach house buildings to a raging inferno, fueled by high ocean winds coming from the north.

It was captured on cell phone by Action News viewer Jimmy McHugh.

When the fire started, a passerby saw the smoke and called 911, then alerted residents.

More than one dozen local fire companies responded. The inferno reached 7 alarms before firefighters were finally able to contain the wind swept blaze.

Lynn and Carl Rodriguez were unaware until their neighbor called them to let them know their house was on fire.

On Saturday, they came to see what was left of their summer home.

"Very grateful, our neighbors were upstairs and Sea Isle City Police got them out," said Lynn Rodriguez.

"A total of three structures containing five units have been totally destroyed at this point," said Lt. Thomas McQuillen of the Sea Isle City Police Department

The flames took out nearly the entire beach block. Authorities say 11 other homes suffered water, smoke and heat damage.

Investigators are still working to see the extent of the damage but they know it's in the millions.

All of the homes are seasonal.

On Saturday, investigators sifted through debris looking for the exact cause and origin but they do not believe the fire is suspicious.

"Unbelievable, that's why we wanted to come down and take a look," said Lou Carrara.

"The main thing is everyone is safe and we'll rebuild," said Carl Rodriguez.

Meanwhile investigators in the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office are encouraging the public to submit photos and video taken of the blaze.

Photos, video and any other information can be submitted to them by emailing jberg@cmcpros.net or calling 609-465-1135.


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