NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Firefighters from around the state are making headway in battling a five-alarm warehouse fire that started early this morning, but that battle will likely continue into tomorrow.
“We will be here through the night and into tomorrow,” North Brunswick Fire Chief Don Salzman said during a noon press conference. “As of right now, we have most of the building under control.”
North Brunswick fire units responded to a 2:30 a.m. alarm at the DCH Toyota warehouse at 1600 Livingston Avenue and found a “smoke condition with fire” at the 350,000 square-foot facility.
That fire, fueled by automobiles, plastics, and building materials stored at the mixed use warehouse, spread rapidly, engulfing the building.
Firefighters from Middlesex, Monmouth, Hunterdon, Somerset, and Morris counties responded to the scene as smoke billowed, forming a cloud visible for many miles.
Salzman said responding units consisted of 44 engines, 10 ladder trucks and 35 tankers.
The huge smoke cloud was even picked up by Doppler radar from the National Weather Service.
Officials evacuated homes and apartments behind the building, near the Route 1 north ramp to Livingston Avenue.
The American Red Cross set up a shelter for 75 people at the Linwood Middle School, according to that organization.
Only one firefighter suffered a hand injury in the battle so far, Salzman said.
“This fire is about the smoke more than anything else,” Environmental Protection Agency Representative and Field Engineer Dwayne Harrington said during the news conference. “If you feel irritated by the smoke, by all means get out of it.”
Harrington said that while there are dangerous chemicals burning, air quality levels are only showing “background” amounts.
“(The dangerous chemicals) are invisible and (being dispersed) into the air above, out of harm’s way,” Harrington said. “We will continue to monitor the air quality.”
Salzman said the firefighting effort is now focusing on a plastic manufacturer in the rear of the building, and the “hundreds of thousands of pounds” of plastics still involved.
Once the fire is out, investigators will try and determine its cause, officials said.