NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On May 13, no one was injured in a blaze high atop one of two major new construction projects going up on the Rutgers University College Avenue campus.
While workers were finishing the roof of the new classroom building at 6 Bishop Place, what was once the site of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS) when part of the roof caught fire.
The New Brunswick Fire Department (NBFD) was first alerted to the fire at 11:38am, and quickly responded. Before they even arrived, firefighters reported a "heavy smoke condition over the city there," according to emergency radio transmissions.
One NBFD employee was heard telling other firefighters to stay away from a certain area of the site where burned propane tanks posed a threat to them.
"We're keeping guys off the affected area that was on fire. I got propane tanks and lots of garbage up here, so we're going to stay off that area," said the firefighter.
Despite the close call, the project will still be ready to open this summer according to its developer, New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO).
"The fire was contained to debris on the roof," Chris Paladino told New Brunswick Today. "No water damage since the roof drain system had been installed last week and it was a concrete roof."
The project is part of a sweeping redevelopment initiative amid the the school's most historic campus, one that involved land swaps and controversies and brought together Rutgers, DEVCO, the NBTS, and other partners.
Paladino said the construction project "lost" only 2 working hours while the fire was being extinguished and the building was subsequently inspected.
"We are on schedule to open this summer," Paladino confirmed.
Just two blocks away, DEVCO is finishing up construction on a 15-story dormitory and retail complex on the site of a parking lot once famous for hosting the city's legendary food trucks.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.