By MADDY VITALE
A fire that began in the Acme parking garage at Eighth Street and West Avenue in Ocean City on Sunday shut down the supermarket, according to a news release from the city.
At 12:55 p.m., the Fire Department responded for a report of fire in the parking garage underneath the store.
The store was evacuated, but there was no injuries to any customer, employee or firefighter, officials said.
By 1:15 p.m. firefighters had extinguished the blaze. Visible damage was limited to the concrete garage area, although thick, black smoke was seen billowing above the store.
Fire Chief Jim Smith told OCNJDaily.com in an interview what he and about 15 Ocean City firefighters saw when they responded to the Acme fire.
“There was heavy smoke in the parking garage. They (firefighters) had difficulty finding the fire because the whole garage was filled with dark, acrid smoke,” Smith said. “The bulk of the fire was buried inside the building and we had to walk through the garage. We could hear the fire burning but it is a big garage. We had to drag the hose in there and use the thermal imaging camera.”
Smith said that some of the difficulty in locating the fire was the debris surrounding it. There was also a fenced-in locked cage in the garage used for storage that firefighters had to break through in the vicinity of the blaze.
But despite the difficulty of the location of the fire, the Fire Department had the fire out in minutes, along with the assistance of other fire departments, Smith added.
“The crews did a great job as always,” he noted. “The communications were excellent and there was great teamwork to control the fire very quickly.”
Mayor Jay Gillian said in a statement, “Fortunately, nobody was injured and most of the damage appears to be limited to the garage area. But inspectors are on the scene checking the building and the food inventory. The store will be closed until further notice.”
He continued, “I hope that will be a short time. In the meantime, please plan to use other grocery stores.”
Gillian also said that if anyone needs assistance in traveling for groceries, he or she should contact OCNJ CARE at http://www.ocnjcare.org or call 609-399-6111.
The Margate Fire Department, Marmora Fire Company and Upper Township Rescue Squad provided mutual assistance.
The store will remain closed until further notice. Cape May County Health Department inspectors are on the scene.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
More details will be released as they become available.