NUTLEY, NJ - There were no injuries in Saturday's fire in a mixed use building fire on Franklin Ave. The building is expected to be condemned, and eventually torn down.
The fire, at 307 Franklin Ave., was first reported shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday morning. The building, known as "the Bike Shop Building" and "Davis Building" is zoned as mixed use. At one time, there were two retail businesses on the first floor, and several apartments on the upper floors of wood structure building. At the time of the fire, the only tenant of the building was Saul's Upholstery Shop. One of the apartments and the bike shop serve as an extra storage space for food donated to Nutley Family Service Bureau's food pantry operation.
The Nutley Fire Department was the first company on the scene. As officers of the Nutley Police Department were closing down Franklin Ave, and establishing detours, fire units from nearby communities arrived on the scene. The companies that responded were the Bloomfield Fire Department, Belleville Fire Department, Lyndhurst Fire Department, and Montclair Fire Department. The Nutley Haz-Mat team responded as well. Two ambulances from the Nutley Volunteer Emergency and Rescue Squad were also on the scene but were not needed.
The building is owned by the Township of Nutley. The building and property associated with it, were purchased by the township as a part of a plan to expand the neighboring middle school. The goal was to tear down the building to expand the footprint of the middle school. The plan to build onto John H. Walker Middle School was first set forth years ago as a way to establishing a true middle school, and alleviate the space issues in the Nutley Public Schools district related to "the shrinking classroom." State educational requirements, the generational turnover of single family homes, and the move to full day kindergarten increased the demand for space within Nutley's five elementary schools. The plan for the middle school addition would have alleviated crowding in elementary schools by moving the sixth grade to Walker, while creating a true junior high school in the community.
By Saturday afternoon, rumors were already circulating about tearing down the building on Tuesday. The process of tearing down a building requires bids, permits, and dust and contaminant control. Given that the fire took place on the Saturday of a holiday weekend, there most likely will not be any action taken for several days. The Nutley Fire Department taped off the area immediately in front of the building.
Lights were still on in Saul's Upholstery Shop Saturday afternoon. The status of that business is not known, It is also not known if the operators of that business will be able to remove their supplies and equipment from the space.
According to Nutley Mayor Dr. Joseph P. Scarpelli, the building is expected to be condemned, if that status has not already been declared. Scarpelli added that he is grateful that there were no injuries to occupants of the building or to any of the first responders from Nutley and surrounding communities.
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