By MADDY VITALE
The day after a fire that shuttered the typically bustling Acme Supermarket at 800 West Avenue in Ocean City, employees cleaned up and threw out spoiled food.
Caution tape lined the perimeter, signaling to customers that the store was closed. Aside from employees, some work crews were going in and out of the store.
Acme Communications and Public Affairs Manager Dana Ward said in an email that they aren’t sure when the store will reopen.
“At this time, it is unclear when we will be able to open our 800 West Avenue store,” Ward said. “In the meantime, our 3428 Simpson Avenue store in Ocean City is open for business and ready to service the Ocean City community for their holiday and everyday needs.”
Ward did not say the extent of store damage or the estimated loss in food items.
While no one at the store would comment about the fire to OCNJDaily.com, it was clear that at least some of the food had to be tossed due to the blaze.
Employees entered the supermarket pushing shopping carts and exited with the carts filled with produce, breads and other foods.
The food was thrown into a large dumpster. One employee hurled grapefruits into the garbage one by one. Bags of breads were also trashed.
At 12:55 p.m. Sunday, the Fire Department responded for a report of fire in the parking garage underneath the store.
The store was evacuated and there were no injuries to any customers, employees or firefighters, according to a press release issued by the city. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The fire was limited to the parking garage. Aside from black smoke marks on the exterior of a corner of the store, the building appeared untouched by flames.
Fire Chief Jim Smith said in an interview Sunday that visible damage was limited to the concrete garage area. He also noted that thick, black smoke filled the garage and billowed out of the building.
By 1:15 p.m. Sunday, firefighters had extinguished the blaze. Cape May County Health Department inspectors were also on the scene Sunday.
Not everyone learned about the fire until they drove up Monday afternoon.
One delivery driver with a Pennsylvania license plate was met by an Acme employee at the front of a wooden barrier blocking the parking lot.
The employee informed the delivery driver that the store was closed and did not know when it would reopen.
The driver declined to give his name to OCNJDaily.com, but said he was supposed to make a delivery. He then quickly got on the phone.
A woman who drove up to do some grocery shopping was told of the fire and that the store was closed.
If anyone needs help in traveling for groceries, they should contact the community assistance group OCNJ CARE at http://www.ocnjcare.org or call 609-399-6111.