Fire damages businesses in Toms River, N.J.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014
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A multi-alarm fire swept through a number of businesses in Toms River, Ocean County.

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (WPVI) -- The multi-alarm fire swept through a number of businesses in Toms River, Ocean County last week has been ruled accidental.

Investigators say an electrical problem appeared to be the cause.

Authorities believe the fire started in the heart of the downtown district in a video store called East Coast Gamers.

"They're telling me everything we have in the store is gone. I don't know anything other than just it's all gone," said owner Kristie Marino.

Viewer video captured the blaze that started around 11:15 p.m. Thursday. The fire was discovered after a burglar alarm went off.

The fire tore through the roof and ignited several businesses and offices in the two-story brick building at the corner of Washington Street.

Among the businesses consumed was Capone's Pizzeria.

"The flames were pretty intense and, about a half hour into it, the roof started to collapse," said owner Jimmy Capone.

14 fire companies responded to the blaze.

At one point, firefighters had to move back as the roof of the building came crashing down.

"It's a very old building, dates back 100 years. There are a lot of common areas throughout the building," said Chief John Mount of the Toms River Fire Co.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury.

The blaze was finally placed under control by 3:30 a.m.

Capone's sustained water and smoke damage. The fire also damaged the offices of the USA Hometown Heroes organization.

That agency has worked to help those still struggling from Hurricane Sandy.

The fire claimed all of their computers, phones, records - and something that can't be replaced.

"We had a wall of thank you cards, about 300 of them that we kept on our wall to remind ourselves why we do this every day," said Mike Schwartz. "And it's gone."

As it turns out, a three foot space between two buildings saved some businesses from being wiped out.

"Some of these are gutted. We watched the roof start in the back, we watched it go all the way to the front, we watched it collapse in," said business owner Kris King.