Ten businesses and 14 apartments have been destroyed or damaged in the fire that swept through Brighton Avenue in the West End of Long Branch on Monday. The Jersey Shore fire was declared under control at 7:15 P.M.
Buildings between 54 and 71 Brighton Avenue were damaged throughout the day due to the fire. The fire left over a dozen tenant's homeless. Those whose homes were caught in the fire are currently at the Long Branch Senior Center, where they are being aided by Red Cross officials.
Long Branch Fire Marshal Kevin J. Hayes Sr. is currently investigating what caused the fire. While some said yesterday that the fire was believed to have started in the West End Dance Academy at 61 Brighton Ave, fire officials are saying that the cause and building in which the fire started is unknown at this time.
The fire which started at 10:30 A.M., was a difficult one to handle due to the age of the building. Assistant Long Branch Fire Chief Angelo Ciaglia said that the building was 100-years-old, and the charred wood was weak and could easily fall. Wind was also a major factor in combating the fire. Firefighters on the scene yesterday said that the wind caused burning embers to land on the Wells Fargo bank across the street. The embers on the roof were immediately extinguished.
Behind the Wells Fargo bank are the Diplomat Apartments. Many of the apartments in the complex are occupied by Monmouth University students.
Residents at the apartment complex did not have to evacuate. The Monmouth University Residential Life Office notified students living in the Diplomat Apartments of the fire, and at 1:18 P.M. stated in an email that At this time, there is no danger to the Diplomat Apartment complex. They recommended that students keep their windows shut, and plan their schedule accordingly due to the closed down streets.
I drove through a cloud of black smoke to get to campus, said Kelly Brockett, 21, a Monmouth University student and resident of the Diplomat Apartments. That was the scariest thing I've ever done.
Firefighters from 11 Monmouth towns battled the fire. The Asbury Park Press reports that by 4 P.M. six aerial platform trucks were training water through the rooftops of the collapsing buildings.
Angelo Ciaglia, Assistant Long Branch Fire Chief, said that low pressure from city hydrants caused the Monmouth County Large Diameter Host Task Force to draft water from Deal Lake, 3/4 of a mile away.
Six thousand gallons of water per minute was used at the height of the fire. As of 5 A.M. on Tuesday, water still occupied the streets surrounding Brighton Ave.
Firefighters continued to use water on apartments and store fronts that were next to the flames in an attempt to keep the fire from spreading to them.
Sacred Circle New Age Center, Universe Graphics, Shelly's Jewelry and East Coast Coin are all businesses affected by the fire.