CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WECT) - Investigators are working to determine the cause of an accidental fire that destroyed the arcade and a shop behind it on the Carolina Beach boardwalk Thursday afternoon.
Firefighters saw a large plume of smoke billowing from the property when they arrived on scene around 11:30 a.m. Several different agencies responded and were able to contain the fire by 1 p.m.
"It was a normal day at work," said Buddy Lusch who witnessed the fire. "I was unlading the truck and smelled something funny. I looked outside and saw smoke just filling the boardwalk."
No one was inside the building when the fire started and no one was hurt.
Frank's Pizza, which is next door to the arcade, was also damaged by the fire, in addition to an adjacent henna tattoo shop and a souvenir shop.
"It's devastation, but we're grateful that nobody was injured and no loss of life," Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said. "We're very appreciative of the hard work of our volunteer fire department in Carolina Beach also the assistance we got from Kure Beach, Wilmington, and New Hanover County. As you can see they stopped it right where it started so they got a good jump on it and we're grateful for the job they did."
The owner of Britt's Donuts said the arcade dates back to the 1940s. Britt's Donuts was not damaged.
"You think about the history of the boardwalk and how long it's been there – and the arcade especially – it's just sad to see something like that go," said Lusch.
According to Mayor Dan Wilcox, the fire started in the arcade and spread to a vacant apartment above.
Officials have spent time looking at footage from the security cameras that were inside the arcade and from neighboring businesses to see if they can figure out how the fire started.
This fire came just a few months before construction is slated to begin on the town's boardwalk revitalization project. Shuttleworth said most of the construction will be on the back side of the arcade, meaning it won't be impacted by the future clean up from the fire.
Town leaders, however, are worried about the amount of construction happening at the same time.
Leaders in Carolina Beach will get together Tuesday evening for a meeting focused on the boardwalk improvements. They're expected to discuss designs, sponsorships, fund raising and other marketing factors.