Police & Fire

Federal Investigators Unable to Determine Cause of Hillsborough Warehouse Fire

b986be7e365d67b5cc96_hillspixfirevote1.JPG
Credits: Rod Hirsch
6cfb1521c0d8a9f01ed1_hillspixfirevote2.JPG
Credits: Rod Hirsch
5725996cb5aee5f2cf70_hillspixfirevote4.JPG
Credits: Rod Hirsch
ec127e67157fa7b9718b_hillspixfirevote5.JPG
Credits: Rod Hirsch
3c042c4f2a3cffc3c415_hillspixroyalcabinet4.jpg
Credits: Rod Hirsch
3eda8f354052796e27ca_hillspixroyalcabinet8__1_.jpg
Credits: Rod Hirsch
b986be7e365d67b5cc96_hillspixfirevote1.JPG

HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. — Federal investigators have failed to establish the cause of the massive Feb. 11 fire that destroyed two warehouses along Route 206, causing $50 million in losses.

"The ignition source for the fire could not be determined and therefore the fire was classified as undetermined. There was no indication that the fire was caused by an intentional act," said Walter Kudron, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"Based on the scene examination and witness statements, it was determined that the fire originated in the high rack storage area of building 14 in the west side of unit C," he added.

Sign Up for E-News

The ATF National Response Team (NRT) completed its fire scene investigation located at Veterans Industrial Park, 152 U.S. Route 206 on Feb. 20 after a week of combing through the rubble and interviewing witnesses.

The ATF took over the investigation from local and state officals because the property is owned by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and subleased to a private real estate firm.

The fire took 15 hours to bring under control after it had engulfed the two warehouses which are parallel to a railroad spur that delivered and carried out materials for businesses located in the industrial complex.

At one point in the fire, the plume of smoke extended 43 miles east over the Jersey shore and the Atlantic Ocean.

The ATF says approximately 500,000 square feet were destroyed. Several businesses were wiped out, and hundreds of job were lost.

The five-alarm fire was extinguished with the assistance of more than 90 fire companies responding with more than 200 emergency vehicles.

The NRT and ATF Newark, New York and Philadelphia Field Divisions together with investigators from the Hillsborough Township Fire Marshal’s Office, the Hillsborough Township Police Department, the New Jersey State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Office of Inspector General investigated the fire, following up on more than 70 investigative leads and conducting more than 50 interviews.

“Investigating a fire of this size is truly a team effort,” said ATF Newark Field Division Special Agent in Charge George P. Belsky. “We appreciate the dedication of our federal, state and local partners working with us to thoroughly investigate this fire to determine its origin and cause.”

In 1978, ATF developed the NRT to bring its expertise to federal, state and local investigators in meeting the challenges faced at the scenes of significant explosive and fire incidents.

The NRT consists of four geographically organized teams that provide nationwide coverage. Each team can respond within 24 hours to assist ATF, state and local law enforcement.

Each team comprises veteran special agents specially trained in post-blast and fire origin-and-cause expertise, forensic chemists, explosives enforcement officers, fire protection engineers, accelerant detection canines, explosives detection canines, intelligence support, computer forensic support, and audit support.

The teams work alongside local ATF assets, and state and local investigators in reconstructing the scene, identifying the seat of the blast or origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the explosion and/or fire.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Bridgewater/Raritan

Upcoming Events

Fri, April 20

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Les Photos de Bernie at the Wayrick ...

Arts & Entertainment Green

Fri, April 20, 2:00 PM

Bridgewater Township Library, Bridgewater

Backyard Birds

Education Home & Garden

Sat, April 21

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Les Photos de Bernie at the Wayrick ...

Arts & Entertainment Green

New Jersey Association of School Librarians Urges BRRSD to Keep All Librarians

April 18, 2018

To the Editor:

The following letter was sent to the Bridgewater-Raritan school superintendent as well as members of the school board from the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL).  

As the statewide organization for school library media specialists, the organization advocates for strong school library programs for all students.  NJASL is disheartened to learn that a ...

Bridgewater Police Arrest Two for $600 Theft at Lord & Taylor

April 14, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Two were arrested March 31 for a theft of over $600 worth of merchandise from Lord & Taylor, in the Bridgewater Commons Mall, according to a report from Bridgewater Township Police.

Mariam Erkomaishvili, 35, of West Orange, and Mikheil Jalali, 38, of Brooklyn, were arrested for shoplifting after they were allegedly found with $624 worth of ...

Hidden in Plain Sight Program to Provide Tips on Recognizing Drug Use in Teens

April 18, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater-Raritan High School, on Garretson Road, will be hosting "Hidden in Plain Sight," a program to help parents recognize the signs a child might be using drugs or alcohol.

The program will be held April 24 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium. There will be a light dinner at 6:30 p.m.

DEA Agent Tim McMahon will speak to parents and students about the signs to look ...

Hillsborough Rotary Fair: Fun Place to Do Business

April 17, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The Rotary Club of Hillsborough will provide local businesses multiple opportunities to showcase their services and connect directly with customers at its 11th annual Rotary Fair, scheduled this year for Aug. 14–19.

More than 15,000 people from Hillsborough and surrounding communities are expected to visit the weeklong family event held at the Hillsborough Promenade, ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Bateman Bill to Require Training, Licensing for Pet Groomers

April 15, 2018

TRENTON, NJ - Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R-16) will introduce legislation to increase protections for family pets by requiring pet groomers to be properly trained and licensed following the deaths of three dogs in five months at different New Jersey pet salons.

“It is sadly far too common for us to read of dog grooming deaths in the news,” said Bateman.