NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A large warehouse fire that was fueled by plastics, autos and household goods sent plumes of black smoke into the air Wednesday that were visible from space.
The fire broke out early in the morning in the rear of the complex that is used by eight businesses in North Brunswick, Fire Chief Donald Salzmann said. The flames quickly overtook a sprinkler system and spread from one end of the building to the other.
Firefighters decided to let it burn out and could be on the scene dealing with hot spots through the evening, the chief said. By the middle of the day, most of the blaze was under control except for the section where a plastic plant was located, Salzmann said.
The cause of the blaze was not known and the investigation would not begin until the flames were out.
The flames lit up the night sky, and the billowing thick smoke was visible on a weather satellite photo.
Residents of a nearby apartment building were ordered to leave after heat from the blaze set the siding on fire. Others were moved as a precaution over fears of potential toxins being released from the burning plastic.
Officials were monitoring air quality and would continue to check the smoke for any health threats, Dwayne Harrington of the Environmental Protection Administration said.
Officials had not detected any dangerous levels of toxins, Mayor Francis Womac III said.
The mayor recommended nearby residents stay inside and turn off their air conditioners as a precaution. Officials were helping residents with respiratory health problems move, if they were unable to do so.
About 75 nearby residents remained in a shelter.
Low water pressure was an issue and tanker trucks, along with firefighters from within a 20-mile radius, were brought to the scene.
A firefighter was treated at the scene for a hand injury.