NEPTUNE TOWNSHIP — As the investigation and cleanup continue into Saturday's massive fire that destroyed a pavilion on the Ocean Grove boardwalk, plans are also under way to bringing visitors back

The fire was determined by investigators to have started on the east side of the boardwalk, underneath the pavilion, which was home to the Dunes Boardwalk Cafe, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. It's an area where homeless have resided in the past.

Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said that cadaver dogs were brought in on Sunday to search the area and came up empty.

A fire at the northern end of the boardwalk on the border with Asbury Park broke out around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. The fire was briefly brought under control before flaring up, sending thick black smoke into the air. The smoke created a haze along Jersey Shore beaches. posted this video of the remaining rubble to its Facebook account Monday:

Neptune Township Business Administrator Vito Gadaleta told New Jersey 101.5 discussions have been held with the business owners and the Ocean Grove Camp Association, which owns all the property in that section of the township.

"This was a devastating fire on many levels as it relates to the loss of the building and potential impact on tourism and jobs and commerce from the businesses that were lost and certainly the township is very much concerned about that," Gadaleta said

He said that with six weeks to go before Memorial Day weekend. the biggest concern is cleaning up the rubble and securing the area so the beach and boardwalk can be reopened.

Firefighters pour water on the Dunes pavilion fire in Ocean Grove
Firefighters pour water on the Dunes pavilion fire in Ocean Grove (Bud McCormick)

"We've opened up discussions on possible temporary uses maybe along the beachfront or on the boardwalk be it food trucks or kiosks or the like to try and get some of those businesses back open, open up some jobs on a seasonal level and also to provide some food and other product to the visitors that come to Ocean Grove and the Jersey Shore," Gadaleta said.

A spokesman for the Ocean Grove Camp Association was unavailable to comment.

Some of the restaurants that were inside the Dunes posted about the fire. America's Cup Coffee thanked the firefighters and emergency responders. The company said it took comfort in the memories they made in a "great space" and said they would be back.

Bubbakoo's Burritos send condolences to their fellow tennants and said at "some point we will rebuild."

The Crooked Snook restaurant also said they would like to return to Ocean Grove.

"To our staff, you were the best staff, people, friends we could have possibly asked for. Thank you for helping us bring our dream to life. To our customers, thank you so much for your patronage and inviting us into your Ocean Grove family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Gannon family and fellow vendors inside of Dunes Boardwalk Cafe Times like this you try to find a silver lining. The silver lining here could not be more clear. Absolutely nobody was injured in this tragedy, and for that we are thankful."

Members of the investigative team are looking to speak with anyone who has any information about the fire at 732-988-8000.

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