Nightly News   |  September 14, 2013

What caused the Jersey shore boardwalk blaze?

Investigators say they haven’t ruled out any scenarios as they shift through the rubble.  NBC’s Michelle Franzen reports.

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>>> a part of the jersey shore this day was spent searching for clues about what might have caused the devastating fire that destroyed part of a newly renovated boardwalk and dozens of businesses recovering from super storm sandy. michelle franzen is in seaside heights tonight.

>> reporter: the boardwalk stretches for blocks and tonight the cause of the blaze is unknown and the start of the fire, they have not determined if it was foul play or accidental. meantime, the fire the also burned the hopes of many living in this community who rely on this iconic spot for their livelihood. digging in and digging deep. a team of arson and fire investigators began sifting through sections of the burned-out seaside park boardwalk, still smoldering in spots today. seaside heights police chief tom boyd says the trained team isn't ruling anything out.

>> whether it's good or bad, the atf, state fire marshals will get to the bottom of what happened here. i have full faith in that. just like reading an x-ray.

>> don't go in there.

>> reporter: witnesses captured this video of the fire breaking out near a kohr's frozen custard stand. the stretch of boardwalk included three dozen businesses that went up in flames. owners like domenic marucca was flooded out by super storm sandy said he poured his life savings into rebuilding maruca's pizza which just re-opened less than four months ago.

>> i will get with my professional people. we'll look at the dollars and cents and then the emotional loss.

>> reporter: business owners met town leaders and governor chris christie today to determine what's next.

>> we had two days to feel sad about this. it is legitimately a sad thing. we have to work to do now.

>> reporter: officials say it will cost $1.6 million to repair the boardwalk and millions more for business owners to rebuild.

>> i lost my business. i can't even put a figure on it.

>> i have to feed my family, my kids. this is how we do it. we depend on the people who come back and support us once we are open.

>> reporter: the determination still there.

>> you have to have a sustainable base, people coming to your place. i don't get a paycheck or the economy doesn't run. to see the devastation here it kicks us back another level.

>> reporter: even in the path on how to get there is unclear. that emotional toll may be the toughest hurdle for the community. counselors have been brought in to help owners and workers out of a job cope with the devastation