Christie pledges $15M to towns impacted by boardwalk fire

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pledged $15 million in aid Saturday to local businesses affected by a devastating fire in the shore communities of Seaside Park and Seaside Heights.

"Getting financial assistance to fire-damaged businesses is a critical step to Seaside's economic recovery, and we're acting quickly to make that happen," Governor Christie said Saturday. "The entire Seaside community has endured so much over the last year. We're going to be with them every step of the way to help them get back on their feet and let the world know that the Seaside Boardwalk is open for business."

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority's board is expected to meet Wednesday to offer the initial aid.

The fire destroyed at least 30 businesses and was a blow to the area, a popular summertime destination that was slowly beginning to recover from the ravages of Superstorm Sandy last October.

The fire appeared to begin in a custard shop along the boardwalk in Seaside Park and quickly spread north into neighboring Seaside Heights, which became notorious as the town where the popular and controversial MTV reality show "Jersey Shore" was filmed. Firefighting efforts were hindered by high winds, which whipped the blaze in all directions.

Small businesses previously impacted by the storm and located within the fire damaged areas will be offered either loans and/or grants to rebuild and re-open, depending on their total need.

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