Quick response limits damage at Takanassee

Cause of fire at Boathouse building under investigation

BY KENNY WALTER Staff Writer

Firefighters from Long Branch and Deal were able to contain a fire that threatened one of the historic buildings at the Takanassee Beach Club site on Ocean Avenue on Friday.

PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff A fire that broke out in the tower of the Boathouse building at the Takanassee Beach Club on Ocean Avenue in Elberon on Sept. 25 was quickly contained by firefighters from Long Branch and Deal. PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff A fire that broke out in the tower of the Boathouse building at the Takanassee Beach Club on Ocean Avenue in Elberon on Sept. 25 was quickly contained by firefighters from Long Branch and Deal. According to Long Branch Fire Chief Don Pingitore, the Long Branch Fire Department received a call around 12:14 p.m. Sept. 25 that one of the buildings at the beach club was on fire.

Pingitore said at the scene that the fire was pretty much contained about 10 minutes after fire companies from Long Branch and Deal arrived on the scene.

“Upon my arrival there was extensive fire on the third floor,” Pingitore said. “We had approximately 40 firefighters here.

“We were able to confine the fire to that third floor and knock down the fire pretty quickly,” he added.

Pingitore credited the effort that the firefighters made for keeping the damage to the wooden structure minimal.

“Our firefighters did a tremendous job in controlling the fire and knocking it down quickly,” he said at the scene.

The building, called the Boathouse, is one of three buildings on the Takanassee property, which is slated for development as luxury homes and condominiums.

Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider was on the scene as firefighters worked to put out the fire.

Schneider said that when he received the call about the fire, he feared it was far worse than what he found when he arrived on the scene.

“We thought it was engulfed in flames; fortunately, that’s not the story,” he said.

Schneider explained that the property owners provide access on the site to the beach, which leads to problems with people breaking into the buildings.

“That’s been a problem,” he said. “The property owners signed a court order to provide beach access and tried to secure the buildings.

“You can’t provide access and secure a site,” he added. “Over the last two years it’s been an issue — what we call in the law an attractive nuisance.”

Above and top: A fire on the third level of the Boathouse building at the Takanassee Beach Club damaged the wooden structure. Above and top: A fire on the third level of the Boathouse building at the Takanassee Beach Club damaged the wooden structure. Schneider explained that lately the building has been used for storage, but the plan is for the developer to refurbish the building and turn it into a community center.

Councilman Brian Unger was also on the scene of the fire last week. Unger requested that the city investigate the possibility of arson,

“I talked to the safety inspector and the fire marshal, and they said it was too early for a cause [to be identified],” Unger said. “It could have started at the bottom of the stairway and gone up.”

Unger has been advocating for preserving and relocating the Takanassee buildings.

According to Unger, the Boathouse is the newest of the three buildings.

“It’s a great old building though,” he added. “It’s all mahogany and cedar; it’s a gorgeous building.”

The Takanassee Beach Club site was originally U.S. Lifesaving Station No. 5. Developer Isaac Chera, principal of Takanassee Developers, purchased the property for just under $18 million from members of the Peters family.

AARONSON AARONSON The developer was issued a Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) permit by the state Department of Environmental Protection to permit construction of a luxury condominium project on the oceanfront site.

The developer cannot proceed with the project until the conditions listed in the CAFRA permit are met, including preserving the three historic buildings on the site.

Plans call for the boathouse to be preserved on site and become part of the new development, and for the other two buildings to be relocated and restored off site. The Captain’s House is to be relocated to Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, north on Ocean Avenue.

A new location for the Port Huron building, a former residence, has not been decided.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Contact Kenny Walter at

kwalter@gmnews.com.