SOUTH RIVER, NJ - East Brunswick's Truck Company 809 and Rescue 804 joined the New Brunswick Fire Department three alarm fire in the borough of South River beginning around 11:30 on Tuesday night. The blaze tore through The Spa at Little River, located in an historic building on Old Bridge Turnpike. Built in 1840, the location has been operating as a spa for the past 26 years.
Lorelei Germain, owner of The Spa, said that the cause of the fire is being evaluated, but that it seems to have begun in the mail room in a basement office. The Spa employs a staff of 20 aestheticians all of whom have been retained throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, though the business has been operating at about one-third of its potential.
"I have put my heart and soul into this business," said Germain who says that she has had to apply creativity and flexibility to be able to keep it open during the restrictions required to address the pandemic. She purchased the business, formerly known as the Serenity Spa, a little more than a year ago.
Germain says that she has a "loyal client base" whose records have been lost due to fire having consumed the CPU towers on the property.
This small-business owner is currently looking to find a space for her staff to work until the building is repaired, which may take some time. "The building is standing," said Germain, "but there is a great deal of damage."
She went on to praise the sense of strength and purpose she felt among the members of the fire companies, EMTs, and police officers whose vehicles lined Old Bridge Turnpike: "They took care of our building and of us." She noted that neighbors and local businesses have offered support. "South River was there for us," she said.
The East Brunswick Independent Fire Company assisted the South River Fire Department in battling the blaze with an aggressive interior attack until conditions rapidly changed and an evacuation of the building was called. (See attached video which describes initial priorities for an interior attack on a fire.)
On Facebook today, the South River Fire Department said, "The officers and members of South River Fire Department would like to thank our brothers and sisters from East Brunswick for all their help last night. Excellent job as usual."
Germain hopes to re-open soon after the paperwork, inspections, and reconstruction that follow any fire have been completed.