Playland fire on Ocean City boardwalk called accidental
The fire at the Playland Castaway Cove on the Ocean City boardwalk was ruled to have started accidentally, according to the preliminary findings.
The fire on the morning of Jan. 30 damaged the offices of the Hamburger Construction Co. restaurant, a Dairy Queen and a BrumeJuice, according to Brian Hartley, vice president of Playland Castaway Cove. Hartley said rides were spared but the park's trademark pirate ship and parrot were also damaged.
The fire started at an undetermined electrical source near the front of the building, according to a statement issued by Ocean City spokesman Doug Bergen. The investigators were able to use a pattern of fire alarms, eyewitness accounts, photos and videos, a detailed excavation of the site and examination of forensic evidence to determine the cause and area of origin for the fire and conclusively rule out other possible causes.
Nobody was in the buildings at the time and no one was injured, according to the investigation.
The Ocean City Fire Department Investigation Unit, Cape May County Fire Marshal’s Office, Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, the ATF and New Jersey State Fire Marshal’s Office were all part of the investigation, according to Bergen.
The amusement park has vowed to rebuild in time for the summer season. The future for the other two businesses is not so clear.
The family that owns the restaurant is selling stickers to help fund a memory book.
"Although we do not know what the future looks like for HamCo, we all have memories of what it was. Four generations of family and friends worked, played, and made some dough in the burger stand at 10th & Boardwalk. We made lasting friendships while we learned how to hustle," the family said in a written statement.
BrumeJuice, a smoothie and juice bar, said it will not reopen in the summer after three years in business. It hopes to open in another boardwalk location.