MANASQUAN, N.J. — Since Hurricane Sandy smashed the Jersey shore, owners of flood-damaged homes up and down the coast feared something else might happen to their properties, sitting vacant and largely unwatched.
Those fears came true for a dozen homeowners on Wednesday morning in this Jersey shore beach town, still reeling from damage Sandy inflicted in October.
An early-morning fire damaged 12 houses on or near the beachfront, destroying two.
The one small bit of good news was that because most of the homes had already been damaged by the storm, they were not occupied when the fire broke out, and no one was injured.
‘‘We were all worried about looting, but the town and the National Guard did a great job of protecting the area. But now this,’’ said Allyson Aiello, who lives a few doors down from where the fire began and whose home was not damaged.
Fire Chief Mike Galos said the blaze broke out at 5:41 a.m. in a house on First Avenue that had come through the storm relatively unscathed. It spread to an adjacent home, destroying both.