OCEAN GROVE - A Red Cross official says a fire destroyed nine homes and damaged five others this morning in Ocean Grove.
Witnesses say the four-alarm fire swept through the structures, including a former hotel, on Surf and Atlantic avenues. The fire was first reported at around 5 a.m.
American Red Cross disaster services regional director Leo Pratte told News 12 New Jersey that approximately 28 people were evacuated from their homes. With the Red Cross' assistance, the Camp Meeting Association opened its doors for the displaced people, as well as for their pets.
Fire officials were worried about embers spreading the flames to nearby homes and other structures where dwellings are so close there often isn't enough room to raise a ladder between homes.
Officials say three people sustained minor injuries as a result of the fire, including an Ocean Grove firefighter who hurt his knee when a wall collapsed.
Fire departments from several other towns were called in to help fight the blaze.