(UPDATE) Blaze envelopes Bellevue Hotel

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The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

OCEAN CITY – A fire at the Bellevue Hotel on the corner of Eighth Street and Ocean Avenue continued to burn Friday afternoon, Sept. 28 with fire companies from across South Jersey on the scene.

The fire started on the third floor of the condemned hotel, according to Ocean City emergency management coordinator Frank Donato. A crew had started demolition work at the building Thursday after it was deemed structurally unsafe earlier this month due to water pooling on the roof.

Witnesses said they saw members of the demolition crew, who were working outside, run from the building sometime between 10:30 and 11 a.m. Friday morning. Donato said that no members of the crew were inside the building when the fire started.

The Ocean City Fire Department responded to the hotel around 11 a.m. Fire companies from Upper Township, Somers Point, Margate, Linwood, Cardiff and Scullville were on the scene with about 50 to 70 firefighters. AtlantiCare was also assisting, keeping firefighters hydrated.

By 11:30 a.m., firefighters had four hoses on the fire, which burned from the hotel’s west side. Thick smoke billowed from the third and fourth floors. At times, firefighters on ladders handling hoses were concealed by the smoke.

No injuries were reported.

 “We have evacuated multiple surround structures around the building,” Ocean City Police Detective Sgt. Dennis Jones said, including residential and businesses.

There was a fear the building might collapse, Donato said.

Power lines to the building and surrounding businesses were cut around 12:30 p.m.

Jones said that the cause of the fire is being investigated. Several people at the scene stated that the fire was caused by a blow torch taking down a fire escape on the building, although nothing has been confirmed.

Jones said the city will address the possible threat of unsafe air quality, due to the fire and presence of asbestos in the building, at a press conference later today.

Demolition of the building, currently owned by Ocean City Plaza, LLC of Brookhaven, Pa., was ordered earlier this month and the city issued a purchase order for the work on Sept. 11.

On Friday, Sept. 7, Dattilo said the city obtained bids for the demolition and awarded the $158,000 contract to Terra Nova Technical Services, LLC of Downingtown, Pa.

At its Sept. 27 meeting, City Council introduced a capital ordinance appropriating $165,000 to pay for the demolition of the Bellevue.

“It became evident to the city that the owner was not in the position to take on the work and the city needed to assume the responsibility,” Dattilo said at the meeting.

He said the appropriation would cover the cost of the demolition contract, as well as some disposal costs. The purchase order had already been issued using other funds, so that the demolition could begin.

No debt will be issued to fund the improvement, he said, and a lien will be placed on the property after demolition is complete for the costs incurred by the city. The city expects to recoup all monies spent associated with the project.

Dattilo, who was also on the scene Friday, said that once the fire is suppressed, the demolition and clean up will continue. The city will not include costs associated with fire suppression in the lien, he said.

Ocean City previously solicited proposals for either the Hotel Bellevue or another property at Sixth Street and Haven Avenue to be renovated into senior housing using Council on Affordable Housing development fees it has collected since 1998. Three bids were received May 17, all for the Bellevue building. Dattilo said the hotel site is no longer a viable option and the city will continue to consider other locations.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

 

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.

The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28. The Bellevue Hotel in Ocean City caught fire Friday, Sept. 28.


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