Note: This guest blog is by Chris Aldrich, a firefighter for 23 years, (19.5 in Toms River with 2 of the 19 years as Fire Chief, 12 years as a command officer, 3.5 years in Whitesville FD, Jackson Township serving currently as Fire Commissioner), as well a Deputy Fire Coordinator, with the Ocean County Fire Coordinators for 3 years, and 14 years as a Deputy Coordinator in the Toms River Office of Emergency Management. Chris is a public adjuster with Andrew K. Knox and Company.

Less than one year ago, the New Jersey Shore got dealt a crippling blow that would have destroyed many people’s thoughts and ambitions. On September 12, 2013, the Seaside Heights/ Seaside Park communities, got dealt a “double whammy,” with a four block long, 10+ alarm fire, destroying many of the businesses who just got back in operation after Hurricane Sandy.

Upon our arrival, we had heavy fire/smoke coming from under Kohr’s Custard, across from the Sawmill on the promenade. Due to the 30-35 mile an hour winds, the fire quickly engulfed many buildings within minutes. Landmarks such as The Beachcomber Bar, Berkeley Seafood, 4 Kohr’s Custard’s, the 90 year old Carousel Arcade, Seaside Clambar, Maruca’s Tomato Pies,and  Jack & Bills Bar were destroyed. The fire quickly spread to what would become city blocks. The fire started at approximately 2:30pm and by 7pm it had consumed almost four total city blocks. 400 firefighters from Ocean, Monmouth, Mercer, Burlington, Atlantic, Cape May counties assisted along with hundreds of Police and EMS from the state. Firefighters were in harms way throughout the incident, battling building collapses, flash overs, and fast moving walls of fire. Firefighters remained persistent and put the fire out.

But this story tells us something, (and it’s something that can relate to insurance claims), take the biggest incident in the world, break it down into its smallest detail, and you will succeed. The Jersey Shore will once again rebuild, we are “Stronger than the Storm,” and we will now be “Bigger than the Blaze.”

Author on left, Ocean County Chief Fire Coordinator Brian Gabriel on right, with a thankful Governor Chris Christie
Author on left, with Ocean County Chief Fire Coordinator Brian Gabriel and a thankful Governor Chris Christie