A fire struck the West End of Long Branch, N.J., Monday. Beginning around 10:30 a.m. the fire reportedly started at a dance academy located at 59 Brighton Ave. Firefighters were at the scene past 4 p.m. as buildings collapsed.
Destroyed in the fire were businesses and apartments. At the start of the fire, firefighters evacuated about a dozen people from the 12-unit apartment building, the Asbury Park Press reported. Long Branch Fire Chief Harold Bentley said that the displaced residents were taken to the Community Center on Second Street.
One of the buildings destroyed in the fire, was the last original building on the Brighton Avenue strip. The building was 100-years-old, making the weak and already flame-engulfed structure even more dangerous for firefighters. The wind helped contribute to the large loss of buildings. At midday, wind carried burning embers across Ocean Boulevard to the roof of a Wells Fargo Bank. Firefighters on the scene immediately put out the embers.
Besides the issue of wind, firefighters also had to battle water pressure problems. Firefighters were forced to turn to Deal Lake, which is three-quarters of a mile away.
The West End of Long Branch is also the home of many Monmouth University students, with the campus less than a mile away from the fire.
It was very overwhelming, said Sarah Oseroff, 20, a student at the university. She drove past the smoke to get to class, and pulled over to take in the scene. It was scary that it was so close to my apartment.
It made me feel more a part of the community as a whole, said Nick Hodgins, 20, also a student at the university. It was scary to have something like this happen only two blocks away from my apartment.
Brighton Avenue is popular with students, housing local food joints like Scala's Pizza and Surf Taco, as well as bars like Jack's and Drafthouse.
The fire was control by evening, and no injuries have been reported. It is unknown how the fire started.