Courtesy Justin Auciello / Jersey Shore Hurricane News
A firefighter runs in front of flames at Kohr's Frozen Custard in Seaside Park, N.J., on Thursday.
The owner of a beachside frozen custard business thought to be near the origin of a devastating fire on the Jersey Shore said he was “still in shock” after losing all four of his stands to the blaze that consumed several blocks of boardwalk in Seaside Park and neighboring Seaside Heights.
While the cause of the fire is still unknown, authorities have said it appears to have broken out near a Kohr’s Frozen Custard stall on Thursday afternoon, before spreading down the tar-roofed shops and restaurants whipped by 30 to 40 mph winds and forcing firefighters to mount a desperate stand after clawing a trench in the boardwalk.
Owner Bruce Kohr told NBC News in a phone interview on Friday that the damage seems “so unreal,” saying that he grew up sitting at the counter, greeting customers. It was “not my second home, it was my first home,” he said.
He added that his “heart goes out to the neighboring owners of businesses, my customers, and the first responders.” Among the responders who rushed toward the blaze near his store, which was not open when the fire started, were former customers, he said.
Kohr said he was in a local Lowe’s store about 20 minutes from the scene on Thursday when he got a call from a manager who was shutting down the custard stand for the end of the season, and smelled smoke.