‘We’re very, very lucky’: A broken water main hampers firefighting at a North Brunswick warehouse

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NORTH BRUNSWICK — Investigators were awaiting the expected arrival Friday of some heavy equipment to help determine the cause of a massive fire at a mattress warehouse Wednesday that lasted for hours, destroying part of the building.

But police reported that no one was injured in the fire that appeared to have started in the back of the building and attracted tanker trucks from around the state to help fight the blaze, which occurred when the town saw a water main break several blocks away. far.

Police Capt. Brian Hoiberg said the fire was being investigated by the North Brunswick Fire Marshal’s Office along with the Middlesex County Fire Marshal’s Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, but they were not yet able to enter the building because some areas were still Burning late Thursday, the structural condition of the warehouse makes it unsafe for anyone to enter. Heavy equipment will be used to demolish some areas and stabilize others.

Around 3:33 p.m. Wednesday, North Brunswick Police received a report of a fire at a structure located at 633 Nassau Street, the location of a mattress warehouse that has been in the city for about 10 years. The fire sent thick black smoke into the air.

Two different companies, with the same owners, are operating off-site, Hoiberg said. He said that Dreamwell Mattress, a Greek company specializing in handmade mattresses, is one of the companies.

The dispatcher asked the caller for everyone to evacuate the building, but when police officers arrived shortly after, the workers were found inside, Hoiberg said. He said the building was so large, divided into two sections sharing one common wall, that workers in the front half of the building were unaware of the fire in the back of the building.

Firefighters battled a massive fire Wednesday night at a North Brunswick mattress warehouse at 633 Nassau Street.

Firefighters battled a massive fire Wednesday night at a North Brunswick mattress warehouse at 633 Nassau Street.

He said patrol officers were able to evacuate everyone from the building and the residents of eight homes along Jefferson Street, the street directly behind the warehouse. Residents were able to return to their homes around 11 pm on Wednesday, an hour after the fire was brought under control.

No injuries were reported, Hoiberg said.

“We are very, very lucky,” he said.

The back warehouse and all the materials inside were completely destroyed, Hoiberg said. The owner remained on site.

The fire was fueled by a variety of combustible materials at the site. The warehouse houses materials needed to build mattresses and springs, such as wood, metal, bed coils and foam, Hoiberg said.

“The explosions people heard were propane tanks. There were multiple propane tanks, some attached to forklifts for forklift fuel and others used in the mattress-making process, and they all exploded at different times. There were countless propane tank explosions.” Throughout the night, Hoiberg said, adding that explosions may have been heard in other communities.

The fire occurred at the same time as a water main break on Cranberry Cross Road, resulting in low water pressure at the taps.

“The pressure we were receiving was not enough to support what was needed for the firefighting operation,” said Hoiberg, who explained. “The response to active duty on the fire was probably about five different fire departments, however, the State Tanker Task Force was activated.” Towns without city water often have cisterns, and if they are part of a cistern task force, they can be called upon to help other communities with water at any time.

At points throughout Wednesday, 20 to 30 tankers from around the state were delivering water taken from Lake Farrington and brought to the scene to fuel the firefighting operation. Hoiberg remembers seeing tankers from Ocean, Morris, Middlesex, Somerset, Monmouth, Mercer and Hunterdon counties.

He said that the tankers do not come with full crews, but they send about two people to deliver water. George Road was closed to allow this operation, because the tanks they were pouring water into were on George Road. The tanker would fill up at Lake Farrington, then dump water on George Road and return to Lake Farrington to refill, a process that continued throughout the night, Hoiberg said.

Roads that intersect with George Road were also closed, Hoiberg said. Route 130 was open but the intersection with Washington Place was closed so tankers could easily get to Lake Farrington and go back and forth.

“We had people calling us because they kept hearing sirens all night, but those tankers were going back and forth from the packing site to the landfill site,” Hoiberg said.

Hoiberg, a 28-year veteran of the North Brunswick Police Department, said the fire was the second largest he had seen in the city since the July 2015 fire at the 10th Alarm Warehouse, part of the auto dealer complex at 1600 Livingston Ave. days. He said the fire brought oil tankers from as far away as New York and Pennsylvania.

Email: srussell@gannettnj.com

Susan Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, courts and other mayhem. For unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Firefighting at a North Brunswick, New Jersey, warehouse has been hampered by a water main break

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