By MADDY VITALE
A fire that broke out late Thursday night at a retail and residential building at 1059 Asbury Avenue caused extensive damage to the structure and forced four residents to evacuate, according to a city news release.
The Ocean City Fire Department responded to a report of a fire at the building at 11:56 p.m. Thursday and it took several hours to locate the fire and get it under control, officials said.
Upon arrival, firefighters found a light haze of smoke in the upper floors of the mixed-use building.
“The Ocean City crews worked extra hard because it was labor intensive to find out where the fire was,” Ocean City Fire Chief Jim Smith said in an interview Friday. “I believe the fire was in the walls. For the smoke to start — there was fire — and the crew had to find it. But the fire just kept going. It had a good head start.”
Smith noted that it was fortunate that not only were there no injuries but that the residents were able to get out of their apartments themselves safely.
The home was about 100 years old. The Ocean City Variety store was on the ground floor and apartments were above, Smith explained.
Due to the age and construction of the building, the fire was able to spread rapidly, the release said.
After further investigation, the fire was located in the exterior walls. The fire was under control and the site cleared by 4 a.m. Friday morning.
In addition to no injuries, the work of the firefighters resulted in no loss to either property next to the burning structure.
Starbucks is on the south side of the building and a century-old home on the other side, Smith said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Fire companies from Marmora and Margate provided mutual assistance, with Somers Point providing backup at Ocean City fire headquarters.