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The teardown and cleanup from the massive Jersey shore boardwalk fire is progressing nicely, and the work should be done by the end of November.
Heavy equipment is hard at work tearing down and scooping up the charred remnants of a Sept. 12 fire that burned more than four blocks of boardwalk in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. Michael Loundy, director of community improvements for Seaside Heights, estimated that about 15 percent of the work is complete.
"We're moving along aggressively, but there's still a lot to clean up," he said. "The more visible stuff, like taking down buildings, looks like it's moving along well. But there's still lots of stuff in and under the sand that has to be removed, pilings have to come out and curbs and sidewalks need to be redone."
Tourists, including some who came earlier this year to gawk at damage from Sandy, now have new rubble to photograph. Skip Smith, of Northampton, Pa., was on the boardwalk Monday at the spot where public works crews made a last-ditch stand against the fire, ripping out a trench to serve as a fire break and prevent the flames from spreading. It worked and spared the remaining two-thirds of the iconic walkway that has hosted generations of vacationers and was featured in the MTV reality series "Jersey Shore."
"I came down in April to check out the storm damage, and that was bad enough," he said. "And now this. It's one of those things that can make you cry."
An investigation determined the fire started in wiring under the boardwalk in Seaside Park that had been damaged by exposure to storm water during last October's superstorm.
The two affected towns awarded a joint contract for demolition and debris removal to Eagle Paving Co., a firm owned by William Major, who owned the Funtown Pier amusement area at the south end of the boardwalk that was destroyed by the fire. It had already been badly damaged by Sandy and was not able to open this summer.
The state has pledged $5 million from a $15 million allocation of post-Sandy aid to reimburse the towns for demolition and debris removal.
Three businesses in the area affected by the fire survived enough to avoid being part of the teardown effort. The Beachcomber Bar & Grill in Seaside Heights, where Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi was decked by a sucker punch in the first season of "Jersey Shore," will remain, as will the Sawmill Cafe and an adjacent arcade in Seaside Park.
Cleanup crews have begun demolishing the stretch of Jersey Shore boardwalk engulfed in a massive fire that destroyed more than 50 businesses last month.
Seaside Park and Seaside Heights officials agreed last week to hire South Toms River-based Eagle Paving Corp. to demolish the stretch of boardwalk burned in a fire started by an electrical failure at an ice cream store Sept. 12.
The company will receive roughly $4.7 million for the work, which could take up to 60 days to complete.
Due to the emergency nature of the cleanup, state officials allowed the towns to skip a closed bidding process and instead allowed them to seek quotes. Two of the four interested firms proposed a lower cost than Eagle Paving, but officials felt the bids were too low for the job to be done well.
"They definitely underestimated the job," Seaside Heights administrator John Camera told the Asbury Park Press, noting that just dropping off the debris at a landfill is estimated to cost $1 million.
The bids received for the work ranged from $979,000 to $6.34 million, officials said. The newspaper said Eagle Paving is run by Bill Majors, who also runs FunTown Pier, the amusement pier that was destroyed in Sandy and lost what was left in the boardwalk fire.
The boardwalk area has been closed since the fire.
The two towns plan to build a temporary dune to protect the shore line in the area where the debris is until new development begins.