7 buildings destroyed, damaged by massive Ocean Grove fire

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NEPTUNE TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Three homes and a vacant hotel were gutted by a fire overnight Friday in the Ocean Grove section of Neptune Township.

Flames broke out about 5 a.m. at a unit on Seaview Avenue before spreading to an adjacent building. The fire grew fast because of high winds and the close proximity of the homes, officials said.

The five-alarm blaze forced dozens to evacuate. No one was seriously hurt, but some residents reported that their pets were still inside. A couple firefighters sustained injuries. One suffered from smoke inhalation, the other was hit in the face by a piece of equipment, officials said.

Neighbors suspect the fire started inside an abandoned hotel on Seaview Avenue, which used to be known as the Warrington. Some say they've seen vagrants getting into the boarded up building.

"I've seen cops take people out," said Robin Weinstock, who was forced to evacuate her home at the La Pierre Condo Complex on Lake Avenue.

"Anytime we have a vacant building we have concerns," Vito Gadaleta, business administrator for Neptune Township, said. "As far as whether people were getting in, I can't comment on that."

The vacant hotel was approved for redevelopment. The cause of this fire is still under investigation. The Red Cross has set up inside St. Paul's Church to assist residents in need of temporary housing.