Man killed in fire that damaged part of Atlantic City, New Jersey boardwalk

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Friday, April 19, 2024
Man killed in fire that damaged part of Atlantic City, New Jersey boardwalk
Man killed in fire that damaged part of Atlantic City, New Jersey boardwalk

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A man died in the fire that damaged a portion of the Atlantic City, New Jersey boardwalk on Thursday night.

The prosecutor's office identified the victim as 67-year-old Bruce Eder, who resided in the city.

The call came in around 7:15 p.m. Thursday for heavy flames showing in the rear of the Central Pier near Tennessee Avenue.

The fire spread to several nearby structures within the property. Someof thebusinesses include an arcade, a speedway, a pizza shop and a convenience store.

Firefighters battle 3-alarm blaze on Atlantic City boardwalk

The fire appears to have started under the boardwalk, and a small homeless encampment was found in the area where the flames started, the prosecutor's office said.

Investigators also said a small campfire was set in Eder's area.

Eder appeared to be sleeping, the prosecutor's office said. An official cause of death is pending an autopsy.

In the meantime, businesses that were affected by the fire are beginning what could be a long path to recovery.

Raul Coreas, the manager of the arcade inside Central Pier, said they could be forced to sit out the busiest season of the year while they clean up water and fire damage caused by Thursday's blaze.

He said insurance adjusters were on the scene Friday assessing the damage.

"We don't have an ETA on whether we're going to open up for the summer," Coreas said. "Could be that we might not be able to open up."

Coreas told Action News he often has issues with homeless individuals who sneak under the boardwalk for shelter and spark campfires to keep warm in the winter.

The Action Cam spotted an area of ripped fencing on the side of the building big enough for folks to easily get under the boardwalk.

"I mean, I kick people off the side of the building, squatters and, like, whole encampments," Coreas explained.

At a press briefing Friday afternoon, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said homelessness on and beneath the boardwalk was something the city's Boardwalk Improvement Group was addressing tirelessly.

Small said the city recently hired 10 community service aides and 15 police officers to assist with the issue, but he said getting homeless people to accept the services the city offers was not an easy task.

"Some of these fences, they just cut right through it," Small said. "The problem is if you go to a homeless person - you can move them from anywhere - and ask them, do they want help. If they say 'no,' there's nothing you can do."

Even though the fire was intentionally set, it does not appear to be criminal in nature, officials said.