An apparent attic fire destroyed the Oceana Casino in Oceano on Wednesday afternoon.
Five Cities Fire Authority Chief Steve Lieberman said the fire broke out at the Front Street cardroom about 3:25 p.m. while the business was open and had patrons inside.
“What happened was they smelled smoke and then called 911,” he said. “Everyone got out safely, though.”
Lieberman said because of the business’s close proximity to the Oceano fire station, an engine was at the site “as they were dialing 911.” Thick plumes of smoke could also be seen from the surrounding area.
According to Lieberman, responders attempted to ventilate the side and roof of the building as increasingly thick smoke poured through. When the roof began to sag and flames could be seen, authorities removed all of the personnel from the roof and called in another ladder engine to “drown the fire with water from above,” he said.
Despite efforts, the fire scorched a large portion of the building, collapsed its facade and destroyed the business’s black and red casino sign.
Lieberman said the building was declared a “complete loss,” though he did not have an estimate on the cost of the damage.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.