BOUND BROOK, NJ - A pair of five-story apartment buildings under construction on East Main Street across from one another were destroyed in a massive inferno overnight that spewed embers and jumped the street, engulfing other smaller buildings nearby.
Two residences and an electronics store were damaged in the fire, along with several vehicles parked on a used car lot, according to borough and fire officials.
Officials say the seven-alarm fire was reported around 8 p.m. and spread quickly. Dozens of fire departments from Somerset and Middlesex counties responded to help local firefighters battle the blaze; only one injury was reported, a firefighter with a sprained ankle.
Flames as high as 80-100 feet lit up the night sky for several hours until the fire was contained early Monday morning.
Residents of nearby residences were evacuated. Service on the NJ Transit Raritan Valley line was suspended between Bridgewater and Dunellen Sunday, with service restored Monday morning. The Bound Brook train station remained closed Monday, and school openings were delayed two hours.
The widespread fire was knocked down by daybreak, with firefighters on extension ladders continuing to pour water on hot spots in the smoldering ruins of the buildings.
Local roads in the vicinity of the fire were closed including Mountain Avenue, John Street, Church Street and Hamilton Street.
Bound Brook officials said the owners of the two buildings will demolish what remains and clear the charred fire debris from the lots; The Meridia 2 building was on the south side of Main Street, adjacent to the NJ Transit/borough parking lot. The five-story building on the north side of Main Street, which was to have featured retail stores on the ground floor and four floors of residential above, was being built between a used car lot and an existing two-story multi-family structure.
Construction on both buildings had begun in the fall, within the past few weeks, windows had been installed on both buildings, and siding had been attached to the building on the north side.
State and federal agencies will join the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Fire Investigation Unit in an effort to determine the cause of the fire, according to Frank Roman, deputy chief of the SCPO.