Scenes from Playland's Castaway Cove almost two weeks after a 4-alarm fire ripped through the amusement park on the boardwalk in Ocean City, N.J. Cherry Hill Courier-Post


OCEAN CITY – A four-alarm blaze that destroyed an amusement park and several stores on the Boardwalk here was determined to be accidental, authorities say.

The Jan. 30 blaze, which caused no injuries, destroyed a building that housed an arcade and offices for Playland’s Castaway Cove. It also burned out a juice bar and two nearby businesses, Dairy Queen and Hamburger Construction Co.

The fire did not damage the Boardwalk, Ocean City spokesman Doug Bergen noted Thursday.

The amusement park’s outdoor attractions also escaped the flames.

“The owner has stated that he will be able to open the park while rebuilding the structure,” Bergen noted in a statement.

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An investigation found the fire was sparked by “an undetermined electrical source near the front of the building,” the statement said.

"Full access to the Boardwalk has been restored," said Bergen, although the fire-damaged building is fenced off from people strolling and jogging by.

The ruins include remnants of an elaborate facade that resembled a sailing ship with a pistol-pointing pirate and a parrot.

The building had been moved to the Boardwalk's 1000 block from its original site at New York's World Fair in 1939-40.

Firewalls prevented the 7:40 a.m. blaze from spreading to additional businesses on the property, according to Bergen.

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Investigators reviewed a pattern of fire alarms, eyewitness accounts, photos and videos from the blaze, his statement said.

They also conducted “a detailed excavation of the site” and examined forensic evidence “to determine the cause and area of origin for the fire and conclusively rule out other possible causes,” it added.

The probe was led by investigators from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They were assisted by personnel from Ocean City’s fire department, as well as Cape May County and state agencies.

Jim Walsh reports for the Courier-Post, Burlington County Times and The Daily Journal. His interests include crime, the courts and economic development. Reach him at

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