By Terrell Brown CBS News
Four-hundred firefighters battled the massive Seaside Heights blaze along the Jersey Shore boardwalk on Thursday. Tim Farrell was one of the first firefighters on the scene.
“It was a hot fire right from the start. Not only did we have fire in front of us, we had fire behind us. It was a tough one,” the 42-year-old said.
Farrell was still at it Friday; 24 hours after the fire had begun.
“I kind of took a knee at one point. I kind of took it all into perspective,” he said.
Farrell said he never imagined fighting a fire that big. Eleven months ago, he never imagined he’d see a storm like Sandy either. Farrell and his son lost everything and had to stay with relatives for four months before moving into another home in Seaside Heights with his girlfriend.
And then something else happened.
“The worst thing that ever could happen to a firefighter. I got a call on my radio. When we got a block away from it, the crew and myself knew it was mine. First thing I saw were flames coming out of the windows and my heart dropped,” Farrell said.
The fire destroyed their new home. The couple had moved into a condo together and life was getting back to normal. Until Thursday and the worst fire he’s ever seen – on the beloved boardwalk where he’d grown up.
Asked how much more he can take, Farrell laughs: “I really don’t know. That’s a good question. It’s been a hell of a year. I’m hoping that this is it. I am certainly hoping that this is it.”
Farrell doesn’t have an answer for his town’s suffering, but believes good will come out in the end.
“I think it is going to come back better than ever. I really do,” he said.
And through it all, he plans to keep his family on the Jersey Shore.