HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – The devastation caused by the massive blaze that burned two warehouses to the ground at Veterans Industrial Park on Route 206 here is both stark and dramatic.
Firefighters worked for more than 15 hours to contain the fire and by mid-afternoon today wisps of smoke replaced the acrid billowing black plumes of smoke that had spread across central New Jersey, drifting eastward across the Jersey shore and out into the Atlantic ocean. At the height of the fire the plume was visible for a 25-mile radius.
The fire burned through the night jumping across a railroad track from one building to another, quickly enveloping both buildings in flames that at times flared up more than 20 feet high.
The only thing left standing was a cinder block wall. The area was strewn with cinder blocks, twisted metal and shards of asphalt, reminiscent of a war zone.
A steady procession of pumper trucks from volunteer fire companies from as far away as Boonton and Mt. Arlington reinforced the efforts of local fire departments, including firefighters from Hillsborough, Manville, Raritan (Somerset County), Bound Brook, Franklin, Montgomery and others.
The pumpers offloaded thousands of gallons of water into portable holding tanks to supplement the water pumped from hydrants on the property. Sand trucks from the Somerset County road department spread salt to mitigate the effects of the frozen water.
Hillsborough schools were closed for the day and Route 206 was closed. Only one minor injury to a firefighter was reported.
Fire officials will begin to sift through the debris to ascertain the cause of the fire which consumed more than 300,000 square feet of storage space used by several tenants including shipping companies, expeditors, wood shops and a company that shipped and received plastic pellets used in a variety of industrial applications.