ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., (AP) — A fire broke out under the wooden Atlantic City Boardwalk on Wednesday right in front of the entrance to Resorts casino, melting part of its facade and burning the doors. But no one was injured and the facility was able to remain open, authorities said.
Two restaurants near the fire were temporarily closed and hoped to reopen later Wednesday, Fire Chief Scott Evans and Resorts President Mark Giannantonio said.
The fire burst through the boardwalk's slats at around 4 p.m. and was driven by strong winds, Evans said. Black smoke boiled into the air as orange flames leapt beneath the Resorts sign. The casino was accessible through a secondary Boardwalk entrance as well as side entrances near parking areas, Giannantonio said.
Aris Matos and his wife Michelle of Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, were having dinner at a restaurant in the casino when he looked outside and saw clouds of smoke.
“We ate some more and then I saw the smoke was getting thicker and thicker,” he said. “Then I saw one of the workers in the restaurant run outside with a fire extinguisher to try to put it out, but the flames were already too big, and he ran back inside the restaurant and told us all to evacuate.”
Matos said the flames were burning the facade of the casino including a canopy that melted, with pieces of it dripping down near where firefighters cut away a section of the Boardwalk with chainsaws so they could spray underneath at the source of the blaze.
Evans said the two-alarm fire required 30 firefighters to extinguish, describing it as “pretty serious.”
It was brought under control within about 40 minutes, and Giannantonio praised the fire department for keeping it from causing further damage.
The cause of the fire was not yet determined. Evans said several possibilities were being looked at, including an electrical malfunction from utilities running underneath the walkway or that the fire might have been caused accidentally by homeless people taking shelter under the walkway, a not-infrequent event in Atlantic City.
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