Wind-Swept NJ Blaze Destroys Several Homes

Two emergency responders hurt

Saturday, Mar 13, 2010  |  Updated 2:45 PM EDT
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Wind-Swept NJ Blaze Destroys Several Homes

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The strong winds didn't help matters.

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Several homes were destroyed and other buildings seriously damaged by a wind-swept fire that tore through a central New Jersey community Saturday.

        Two emergency responders -- a firefighter and a first aid squad member -- sustained minor injuries in the Ocean Grove blaze.
       
It was not immediately clear what sparked the fire, which was reported just before 5 a.m. and burned for several hours. Officials say it apparently started in one of the homes and quickly spread.
       
Several local fire departments fought the blaze, but their efforts were hampered by strong winds and heavy rains.
       
At least four homes were destroyed, while another residence and a nearby historic inn were damaged. Some homes were vacant at the time, while residents in the other buildings were safely evacuated.

People in the Oceanview Hotel, which is located across the street from the building that caught fire, had to evacuate for an hour because hotel authorities were concerned about flying embers, says Bob Valente of The Ocean Plaza Inn, which has the same owner as the Oceanview Hotel.

"The heat was so intense, you could feel it across the street," Valente said. "I've never seen a fire rage that high."

Authorities are expected to release a statement on the fire this afternoon.

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