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Posts Tagged ‘Manchester Inn’

Only The Manchester Inn's Mini Cooper remains

Sunday afternoon, we walked over to Ocean Pathway, where lots of people were standing around.  It was eerily quiet – bystanders gathered in groups of two or three and everyone talked softly, as if not to wake the dead…embers.  The sound of the giant shovel clawing at the rubble and remains was surreal.  The gray mist shrouded the ghastly site and we walked on sooty ground and noted hundred of black spots where burning embers had landed.

The remains of The Manchester Inn and the houses on either side of it.

The Shovel and the Rubble

Next door to the house next door to the INN

This is where 3 houses stood on Bath Avenue

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5:00 am – still snuggled under covers, we hear sirens wailing down Broadway.

6:15am – my cell phone rings downstairs and I don’t get to it in time.  Look at the missed call and it was Susan.  Call her back – she is yelling into her cell phone over the roar of the wind and called to tell me that the Manchester Inn burned down and several houses were burning too.  In two minutes I know I ‘m not going back to sleep and I tell Peter I’m going.  He really doesn’t want to get up but doesn’t want me to go alone.  So believe it or not (and those of you who know us, know….) we got up, threw on some clothes and drove over to Main Avenue.  Stepping out of the car we were hit by the smell of the smoke.  And looking farther west down Main we could see a wall of smoke that extended from the fire on Ocean Pathway to Main Avenue  We left the car in front of the Hardware Store and made our way down Pilgrim Pathway.  There were orange cones on Ocean Avenue at Main, at Central Avenue and Main, at Pilgrim Pathway and actually almost anywhere you looked north of Main Ave.

The wind was howling, it was raining and as we stood in front of the Auditorium we could only see about 50′ in front of us. The wall of dark gray smoke was more like a house, not a wall.  Everything was enveloped in this ominous gray cloud.  We encountered a man who was walking around the Great Auditorium with a coal shovel and he told us he was looking for embers that were landing close to this famous structure.

Next move was to the Auditorium Pavillion to change batteries and assess just how close we could get.  Walking past the tent structures up to Central Avenue it was difficult to see anything – so many fire engines, so much smoke.  Some people were moving left and we followed them to Bath Avenue, the street that runs parallel and to the north of Ocean Pathway.  There the horror and scope of what was happening was made real for us bystanders.

Bath Avenue is a narrow street and we were able to stand on the sidewalk opposite the houses on fire.  This had to be about 6:45am and 3 of the houses had already burned beyond salvage.  The firemen just kept pouring water on these houses and the fire would keep popping up along a roof line or somewhere in what was left of a house.  The firemen tried to stop it from spreading but this was fairly impossible.  I saw one house, a green house with siding and it was scorched so badly,  I wondered if it would just ignite some place too.

I stood there crying, this was such a tragic scene and one every Ocean Grove homeowner dreads and fears and knows “that there but for the grace of God goes…”.   Looking at these burnt out shells, emotions running in high gear, the house, yes – BUT the belongings, the treasures, the photos, the memories all gone up in smoke so to speak.  Dear God, my heart goes out to these residents.  Finally cold and wet through and through, Peter and I walked around to Ocean Pathway to see if we could now see anything of the ruins of the Inn. Not really, just the eerie sight of the Manchester Inn’s little car still parked out in front.  The labyrinth of hoses was mind-boggling – running east to west on the Pathway, south to north from Main Ave to the Pathway, hoses up and down Bath Avenue, hoses laying along Beach Avenue.  Then as I was walking back to our car, I noticed the firemen laying ladders alongside the big beautiful house on the northwest corner of Beach and Ocean Pathway.  I couldn’t bear to watch another historical Victorian go up in flames.

We thought we might have breakfast at Nagle’s but it hadn’t opened yet.  Then we got word that the water pressure on Main Avenue was greatly diminished and the water was running out brown.  Thinking better of that idea, I assumed that our cottage was far enough away not to be affected by the water situation – WRONG!!!

The cats got bottled water and I hope to shower before bedtime.

This has been a day of anguish, of introspection, of concern, and a deep appreciation and thankfulness for the bravest of the brave – The firemen and I assume some of the many companies that responded to Ocean Grove’s call for assistance, are volunteer fire houses.  Thank you West Long Branch, Neptune, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Allenhurst, Bradley Beach, Shark River Hills, Avon , Deal, Belmar, Ocean and please forgive me if I omitted some, there were just so many trucks and firemen everywhere.

Just like a victim of 3rd degree burns, our town has been indelibly scarred.

Saving the big Victorian on the corner

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

A House is Not a Home Anymore

Relentless Fire in Spite of the Rain

A Burnt Piece of a Column Amid the Omnipresent Hoses

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