New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says the massive fire that destroyed part of an iconic Jersey shore boardwalk in two towns is 95 percent contained.
Christie said Friday it could take days to extinguish “hot pockets” at the scene.
“The team on the ground is tackling this one step at a time to ensure that this site is secure. Today’s job is focused solely on putting out the smoldering that has taken place on small pockets on the boardwalk and that may continue for days" said Christie during a press conference Friday.
Firefighters are continuing to pour thousands of gallons of water on the smoldering remnants of the massive fire. Officials are counting the cost of once again rebuilding a walkway that had been wrecked less than a year ago by Superstorm Sandy.
“The damage extends from Lincoln to Stockton, about a four-block radius has been destroyed but the damage has been contained to commercial properties only and a condominium complex,” said Christie.
About 100 firefighters remain on the scene, and heavy equipment is poised to move in and start poking through the rubble once firefighters extinguished the last burning pockets.
Fire investigators are also working to determine how the fire started. Christie says the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office will lead the investigation and work along with the Ocean County Fire Marshal, Ocean County Sherriff’s Office, NJ State Police Bomb Unit and the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.
"The attention is focused on how this fire started, we don’t know yet and it would be irresponsible to speculate," said Christie. "This is typical for any fire, you should not read anything into it. We have spent most of our time and all of our resources on stopping the fire. We are going to preserve evidence we are going to let the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office lead the investigation
Authorities say the fire that raged for eight hours had destroyed about five blocks of boardwalk in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights and has leveled 32 businesses in Seaside Park alone.
Christie revealed Friday that he learned about the fire during a Sandy rebuilding meeting.
“I said to my staff ‘I really feel like I am going to throw up’…how much more are people going to be expected to take," said Christie.
Investigators estimate nearly 30 buildings were destroyed in the blaze so far but that number could climb up to 60. Christie said he will work agressively to rebuild the Seaside Park community.
“I feel for the folks whose businesses were destroyed. We have an obligation now to get aggressive and rebuild. I will not permit all the work that we’ve done over the last ten months to be diminished or destroyed by what happened last night. We are going to get back to on our feet we are going to do what we need to do," said Christie.
Christie says crews will work this weekend to assist businesses and local officials to begin the task of demolition, removal and rebuilding.
The investigation will likely take days and then the scene will be turned over to the property owners, according to authorities.
Governor Chris Christie plans to meet with affected business owners on Saturday. One of those owners, Lou Cappetta, also spoke to Christie on Friday.
"He informed me they're going to do whatever they possibly can to finance the rebuilding," Cappetta said. "We'll pull through this. We will."