It has been seven years since I looked over the Mathis bridge and saw black smoke billowing from one of the most entertaining places in New Jersey. Just a day after the anniversary of September 11th, the eerie black smoke put the entire state on edge.

The fire started at Kohr's Custards on the Funtown Pier and destroyed sections of the boardwalk in the Heights and Park sections of the town. The fire's cause was determined to be faulty wiring under the boardwalk near Kohr's Custards left behind from Superstorm Sandy a year earlier.

Over 400 firefighters from dozens of New Jersey towns fought to smother the blaze, but not before over fifty businesses were lost. There were millions of dollars in damages to the already storm-damaged boardwalk. Firefighters from New York City and Staten Island also responded to the massive blaze.

I remember being just across the water in the Bayville-Ocean Gate connection marshes looking out at the black billowing smoke. Our minds, of course, went to terrorism. The three families next to me agreed. We were panicked.

We did not know the fire's extent until that evening when then-Governor Chris Christie addressed the state from the charred boardwalk.

It was just a year earlier that I drove to the edge of the Mathis Bridge with my father during Superstorm Sandy and watch part of the boardwalk, and my childhood, float away.

To all of the firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and ordinary citizens that came together on that fateful day — thank you.

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