Station 44 responds to structure fire at Sunny Hunny in Ortley…

Station 44’s Matt Semeraro was the nozzleman of the first hose to put water on this fire at the Sunny Hunny Restaurant, Route 35 North in Ortley Beach.

A close-up of Sunny Hunny damage.

THE TWILIGHT ZONE?: Half-eaten plates of breakfast food are left on tables of the Sunny Hunny, which was quickly evacuated when a fire occurred in the electric service panel outside the building.

For the second time in just a week, a group of barrier island restaurant-goers were forced to evacuate a premises with food left on the tables uneaten. Earlier in the week the scene had been at the Crab’s Claw Inn in Lavallette, which sustained a structural problem. On Sunday morning August 19th, the scene was the popular Sunny Hunny restaurant, located on Route 35 North in Ortley Beach. Initially, the SHFD was dispatched to a fire on an electrical pole near the Sunny Hunny. The reality was that the fire was not on a pole, but was inside the electric meter on side of the building. The restaurant was packed with customers at about 10:30 a.m. when the smell of smoke became prevalent inside the restaurant. Patrons were evacuated immediately and without panic, according to Sunny Hunny owner Bernie Ferris. In addition to Station 44, Ocean Beach Fire Department and the FAST team from the Point Pleasant Beach Volunteer Fire Department also responded. The fire was able to be contained the electric service panel located inside an attached shed-like structure on the south-side of the Sunny Hunny premises. It was a challenge to accomplish this, according to SHFD firefighter Matt Semeraro, who was the nozzleman for the first hose to put water on the fire. Smoke was visible during the height of the blaze, as flames licked through the metal conduit that protects the connections to the electric meter. Firefighters poured water onto this area to keep the fire contained until GPU energy staff could turn the power to the building off at 11:02 a.m. Although flames did ignite the wooden ceiling of the area around the electric box, the main portion of the building was not burned. The fire was declared under control at 11:26 a.m. Even though this was a cloudy, cool, and otherwise not overly busy day, the traffic pattern surrounding the Sunny Hunny was snarled in both directions for about two hours as police officers from the Township of Toms River, and Fire Police from various locales tried to maintain order and safety. Inside the restaurant, the smell of smoke permeated the air, and tables of uneaten food remained as if in an episode of the Twilight Zone. (A similar, eerie phenomenon also was observed at the Crab’s Claw, according to sources.) Sunny Hunny owner Bernie Ferris says he will try to clean-up and re-open within the next few days. Mr. Ferris says 2007 is his 20th year in business. He bought the restaurant in 1987 from famed Sunny Hunny founder Mama Lita, who operated the establishment with her staff of “chicks” prior to the purchase in ‘87. Mr. Ferris says that Mama Lita is actually still around, living in Point Pleasant last he knew.


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