Monday, March 31 – Boardwalk Fire Destroys Businesses

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OCEAN CITY- A large fire ripped through a Boardwalk restaurant and a neighboring T-shirt shop midday on Sunday sending 20-plus fire companies from throughout the region rushing to contain the blaze in the heart of the historic area of the resort.

Black smoke billowed from the downtown area shortly after noon on Sunday that could be seen from miles around. The nine-alarm fire did extensive damage to the Dough Roller restaurant on the Boardwalk at Dorchester Street as well as the Sunshine Beachwear store nearby. Marty’s Playland also sustained damage from the fire, but most of the damage at the historic arcade was caused by smoke and water.

The fire was discovered by Ocean City Police Department officers, who had responded to the area of the building for a reported assault in progress. When officers arrived on the scene, they observed smoke and flames coming from the building.

Members of the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company and the town’s emergency services department responded en masse to the scene and were joined by as many as 20 fire companies from around the lower shore including several from Worcester and Wicomico Counties in Maryland and Sussex County in Delaware.

Hundreds of firefighters and dozens of pieces of equipment crammed into the downtown area to fight the blaze. Thousands of spectators, many of whom were on the already crowded Boardwalk on a Sunday afternoon in late March, stood behind yellow caution tape in and around the scene.

The fire was brought under control around 2:25 p.m., about two-and-a-half hours after it was first reported, although fire crews remained on the scene late into the afternoon on Sunday. The fact the fire was limited to the Dough Roller and the clothing store for the most part was a blessing considering the close proximity of historic buildings, including neighboring Trimper’s Rides, many of which are over 100 years old. Fire officials said later the direction of the wind helped prevent further spreading.

The fire and the associated response created some measure of chaos in the downtown area on an otherwise busy Sunday afternoon. Police officers directed traffic heading into the resort on the Route 50 bridge north onto Baltimore Ave. and no vehicles other than emergency vehicles were allowed to head south into downtown from the bridge. A short time later, state police blocked the bridge forcing vehicles attempting to go into Ocean City to turn around.

One firefighter sustained a minor eye injury and was treated and released from a local hospital. The cause of fire will be investigated by the Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office.

For the complete story and dozens of pictures, keep following The Dispatch website or pick up Friday’s print edition.

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