Flood, wind and fire hit Strathmere

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photo courtesy of Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company. A Strathmere firefighter aims a water hose at a fire on the corners of Tecumseh and Commonwealth avenues Friday, March 8. photo courtesy of Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company. A Strathmere firefighter aims a water hose at a fire on the corners of Tecumseh and Commonwealth avenues Friday, March 8.

STRATHMERE – This coastal community suffered several days of flooding, high winds and rain, and two structure fires last week as a northeaster hit the storm-weary Jersey Shore.

 

The barrier islands are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy in October, and officials said a possible cause of two fires last week may be corroded wiring in homes that were flooded. More than 100 homes in Strathmere experienced flooding during the hurricane.

“Most of this can be attributed to flood waters,” said Committeeman Jay Newman, who is the fire chief of the Marmora Volunteer Fire Co. and oversees public safety for the township.

Newman said he could not give the precise cause of the fires, which the county fire marshal is still investigating, but noted that both are believed to have started as a result of a heater malfunction or corroded wiring.

“Any home touched by flood waters, salt or fresh, needs to have that checked out by an electrician,” he said. “Sandy touched a lot of those homes in Strathmere and the mainland. Wiring corrodes tremendously and quickly.”

The Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company, Ocean City Fire Department, the Sea Isle City Fire Department and mainland fire companies responded to a structure fire at the corner of Tecumseh and Commonwealth avenues around noon on Friday.

The fire started in the southeast corner of the first floor of the Grace Curran Real Estate building. It is believed a heater malfunctioned and started the blaze.

The family was not home at the time of the fire. A pet dog was rescued from the building, Newman said.

Strathmere firefighters were first on the scene. Firefighters had doused the flames by 12:30 p.m. They then used hooks to tear off siding to see if the fire might spread.

Two firefighters from Ocean City were injured. They were treated at Shore Memorial Hospital and released Friday.

Officials called it a very difficult fire because of the age of the structure. Newman said old construction has a lot of voids that makes it difficult to stop a fire.

“Strathmere fire did a phenomenal job knocking down that fire,” he said.

Commonwealth Avenue was closed to traffic for a short time. Damage to the building is extensive.

A second fire started in a home on Taylor Avenue in Strathmere on Saturday morning. Firefighters responded to the scene in three feet of flood waters.

The Strathmere Volunteer Fire Co. used a storm truck, a converted Army truck, to get to the fire. That fire was put out very quickly, according to officials.

Strathmere has also experienced flooding since Wednesday, with the worst of it on the bay side. The northeaster eroded beaches here as well, leading to a sand loss equal to Hurricane Sandy, said township engineer Paul Dietrich.

“The inlet side, the natural area, lost some sand,” Dietrich said. “Whale Beach lost sand and there are some groins that are more exposed. We probably lost as much sand as we did in Hurricane Sandy.”

In January, measurements done by Dr. Stuart Farrell of the Coastal Research Center at Richard Stockton College estimated Strathmere beaches lost 127,000 cubic yards of sand from Hurricane Sandy.

Dietrich said much of the sand lost in last week’s northeaster is still close to shore. Another survey of the beaches will be done in three to four months, he said.

Dietrich said the township should reach out to Rep. Frank LoBiondo to secure federal funding for a beach replenishment project for Sea Isle City, Strathmere and the south end of Ocean City. An Army Corps of Engineers project would see the federal government pay 65 percent of the cost of the project. Upper Township would pay a quarter of the remaining 35 percent.

“That would be very advantageous to us,” Dietrich said.

photo courtesy of Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company. Firefighters had to get through flood waters before they could fight a fire on Taylor Avenue early Saturday morning. photo courtesy of Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company. Firefighters had to get through flood waters before they could fight a fire on Taylor Avenue early Saturday morning.

photo by Ted Kingston. Flood waters top Bayview Drive during the northeaster last week. photo by Ted Kingston. Flood waters top Bayview Drive during the northeaster last week.

photo by Ted Kingston. Waves crash over the road on the Avalon side of the Townsends Inlet Bridge. photo by Ted Kingston. Waves crash over the road on the Avalon side of the Townsends Inlet Bridge.

 

 


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