UPPER TOWNSHIP — Since early summer, township committee member Jay Newman has called for security at the start of every meeting.
It has included heartfelt calls to swim only in front of a lifeguard after a spate of drownings in the ocean this year, as well as warnings against digging on the beach after a person died in a collapsed seaside hole in May at Toms River. Newman is also the chief of the Marmora Volunteer Fire Company and the township’s commissioner of public safety.
On Monday, Township Administrator Gary DeMarzo received a new warning: Stay away from fireworks found on the beach. Since July 4, when an unexpected explosion occurred on a barge firing fireworks off Sea Isle City, large fireworks have washed ashore on Sea Isle and Strathmere beaches.
No one was injured in the blast, Sea Isle officials say, but some of the unexploded fireworks were tossed overboard.
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Some of the unexploded flares could still be in the waves, DeMarzo said.
“It could be for the next two or three weeks, or it could be indefinitely. If you see anything in the weight of a 10 or 15 pound firework, that could be a problem,” DeMarzo said.
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The State Police bomb squad was called in, both for ammunition on the beach and for rockets which the public works crews picked up and returned to public works headquarters.
“It was kind of interesting to see the bomb squad come out and blow them up on the spot. It was pretty neat,” Mayor Curtis Corson said. “It was after July 4th, but it was an event additional.”
It may seem that cardboard rockets would be rendered harmless after several days in salt water, but there is still concern that explosives could be dangerous.
Rockets range in size from about a hard ball to almost the size of a bowling ball. Township engineer Paul Dietrich said anyone who finds one should call 911.
Newman returned to the issue of people digging holes when visiting the beach. Sometimes they pile up sand as a barrier to rising tides, while others simply dig deep holes.
“These holes are security issues,” Newman said. People could trip over it and there could be a problem with emergency vehicles, he said.
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Bathers have an obligation to obey the orders of lifeguards, including when they are told to fill holes dug in the beaches.
Reporting on the beaches, Newman said that an average of 13,000 people a day visit the beaches. Lifeguards report that 21 people were rescued from the water in what he described as ‘fishing trips’, along with two medical calls, three reports of people lost and more than 1,000 preventative actions including refilling holes on the beach.
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