NEPTUNE — A fire on Saturday destroyed The Dunes Boardwalk Cafe in Ocean Grove and filled the Asbury Park boardwalk with smoke.

The fire appeared to be under control early Saturday afternoon before the winds whipped up the flames and smoke again. The fire caused part of the boardwalk to collapse.

After the fire erupted about 11:30 a.m., firefighters battled the flames from the roof, but flames eventually shot out of the upper part of the building.

The Asbury Park Press reported that a Neptune Township police officer pushed back the beach crowd, yelling "The whole thing is going to go." The roof collapsed sometime after 2 p.m. Officials were investigating the cause of the fire.

The Dunes is a cooperative eatery that is home to eight restaurants at the north end of the boardwalk but was not yet open for the season.

Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said investigators believe the fire start under the boardwalk and spread to the building above it.

Winds on Saturday afternoon were gusting up to 16 mph, with a gust as high as 31 mph, New Jersey 101.5 Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said.

The Dunes houses America's Cup Coffee, Bubbakoo Burritos, Burgers on the Boards, the Crookerd Snook, Eat Poe Bro, Just Another Days, Luigi's Pizza, Playa Bowls and Summertime's Salads and Subs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Firefighters at the Dunes Cafe in Ocean Grove (Bud McCormick)
Fire at the Ocean Grove boardwalk food court on April 13. Bud McCormick
Smoke from the Ocean Grove boardwalk fire visible in Asbury Park on April 13, 2019. (Tom Dunphy/Townsquare Media NJ)
Smoke from a dire at the pavilion on the Ocean Grove boardwalk drifts over the Asbury Park boardwalk (Tom Dunphy/Townsquare Media NJ)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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