Recordings of 911 calls from the blaze that devastated a Jersey Shore boardwalk portray frantic attempts by civilians to douse the flames when the fire was still small, before it spread and destroyed more than 50 businesses.
"Uh there's a fire on the boardwalk in Seaside ... underneath the boardwalk, you can't see the flames, but there's smoke," a caller says in one conversation with a dispatcher obtained by NBC 4 New York.
"We got the hose on there ... Oh my God, you guys gotta come quick! It's going from nothing to something," the caller says.
"Hurry guys, hurry hurry hurry."
The fire that started under an ice cream shop and candy store quickly consumed a huge swath of boardwalk and burned for more than eight hours. Authorities said it was caused by the electrical failure of aging equipment damaged by Sandy.
The wiring, officials said, was flooded and submerged in saltwater, and then was further irritated by sand and waves. Exposed wires somehow came into contact with each other, causing an electrical arc that is believed to have started the fire, which began in an inaccessible area under those boardwalk stores.
"We can see all the smoke rising out of the boardwalk and everybody's like trying to throw water on it," says another caller.
As callers told dispatchers that civilians were trying to put out the flames, they were told that firefighters were on their way and were warned to stay away.