Calls for full-time department after Sea Isle City marina fire

SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. (WPVI) -- Residents in Sea Isle City are calling for a full-time fire department after flames erupted at a marina, just weeks after a Memorial Day weekend fire destroyed a home.

Carmen Conti said he was returning from an errand around 12:30 p.m. Sunday when he saw the fire at his family's marina in the 300 block of 43rd Place while sitting in traffic.

"It was surreal. I was saying, 'why is it burning? It's my place.' By the time I got here it was getting bigger and bigger," Conti said.

He said he had only been out for five minutes. But in that time the fire started in a shed and spread to his family's commercial fishing boat.

Neighboring homes were evacuated and the smoke could be seen for miles.

Fire crews from the city and neighboring towns battled the flames. There was gridlock on Sea Isle Boulevard as people stopped to watch.

Conti believed the fire began in a compressor next to the commercial fishing boat named "Adison Rose."

His family owns a string of businesses on the block, including a restaurant Carmen's and bait and tackle shop Two Chums. Conti said neither were affected and remain open.

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Marina catches fire in Sea Isle City. Annie McCormick reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on June 16, 2019.

Conti's 15-year-old son, C.J., and 18-year-old employee, Conner Overcash, were among those who worked to get the boats at Two Chums away from the fire.

At one point, the two teens were separated by the flames.

"I ran back to the boats to untie it. Nobody wanted to come with me. They were all telling me to jump off. It was really scary," said Overcash.

C.J. Conti said, "I'll never forget the picture of him, when I'm standing there and there's fire in front of me. I can see him sitting in the boat just yelling. It was just terrible."

Both young men were not injured.

Two people were taken to the hospital; one was released and did not suffer any injuries.

Sunday's incident comes just three weeks after a fire destroyed a home on the 5600 block of Central Avenue.

Residents then blamed the fire's damage on the volunteer fire company's response time.

"The cops come and I go 'where's the fire truck?' And then another cop comes and I go 'where's the fire truck?' And then ambulances come, I go 'where's the fire truck?' Twenty minutes later, a fire truck shows up. At that time an entire car is engulfed in flames," said fire victim Janice Pantano at the time.

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Jersey Shore home catches fire just after residents arrive. Katie Katro reports during Action News at 4:30pm on May 24, 2019.

Police said their records showed otherwise. Sea Isle's police department said two fire trucks arrived at the home on Central Avenue 12 minutes after the 911 call was placed. They said the first hydrant was opened about 16 minutes after the call.

"In the moment, it feels like it's 20 to 30 minutes but in reality, we had a truck on the scene in 12 minutes," said Sea Isle Police Chief Tom McQuillen.

But after this second fire, Sea Isle residents are again pushing for a full-time fire department so they don't have to rely on volunteers.

After the fire three weeks ago, there was a town hall to discuss the issue.

Carmen Conti told Action News, after Sunday, he is on board for the full-time department.
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