CARTERET, NJ—One of the six buildings in Carteret’s Bristol Station apartment complex was destroyed in a fire that began at approximately 2 p.m. on July 23, leaving dozens of people homeless and causing an unknown number of injuries.
The blaze purportedly began shooting from a second floor balcony and continued to spread throughout the complex.
The building was engulfed by flames, creating a challenge for fire officials as they tried to bring equipment to the scene and suppress the fire.
Carteret Fire Chief Mark Hruska said every unit and hallway of the complex came equipped with sprinklers. He added however, that there were no sprinklers on the balcony where the blaze initially started and spread.
In an interview with ABC Channel 7 news, Huruska shared: “We had multiple interior collapses…. And the roof collapsed about eight minutes into the fire… and then we had multiple floor-on-floor collapses within the building that blew the windows out.”
Carteret’s Fire Department declined to comment any further about the events that led to the blaze, stating “at this time, the cause of the fire is under investigation and a statement will be released once the investigation process is finished.”
“So far preliminary reports say there are only a few non-life-threatening minor injuries,” said Mayor Reiman.
“However, fire suppression continues and then inspectors will conduct a thorough investigation and will visit every accessible unit. We continue to pray for the safety of our first responders and for the residents who lost their homes today.”
Tenants fleeing the scene were directed to a common area where they began receiving assistance from the American Red Cross.
Jon Salonis, Director of Communications at Borough of Carteret confirmed to New Brunswick Today “there is no loss of life or serious injuries.”
“We are waiting on reports for any pets which are family to so many of us,” said Salonis.
Mayor Dan Reiman lamented, “the structure fire today at Bristol Station will cause a complete loss of building 4 which is comprised of 48 units and nearly 75 residents.”
Reiman promoted a link where people can donate to a “charity trust fund” to assist displaced residents.
The complex opened in the summer of 2007 after being built by Matzel Development, and is located off of the Peter J. Sica Industrial Highway on a road called Bristol Station Court.
In 2019, the 288-unit complex was transferred from Brooklyn-based Bristol TIC LLC for just over $2.3 million to Lakewood-based Bristol Apartments Owners LLC, according to property records. The Bristol Station website says it belongs to Premier Properties.
Some firefighters were also treated for heat exhaustion, but backup and support came from several fire departments including South Amboy, Sayreville, and Woodbridge.
One out-of-town firefighter told New Brunswick Today that his department came through because fighting fires requires more personnel on hot summer days as each crew can spend less time in a blaze before they have to pull out.
Gisselle is a reporter at New Brunswick Today and a proud Rutgers University Alumni. She has a passion for writing, investigating and bringing attention grabbing news to the local community.