Bound Brook Mayor: Still No Cause For Massive Apartment Inferno

WCBS 880 Newsroom
January 13, 2020 - 6:20 pm
Bound Brook fire

Paul Murnane/WCBS 880

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BOUND BROOK, N.J. (WCBS 880) — A large fire that started in an apartment building under construction spread to several other buildings late Sunday in a downtown district, authorities in New Jersey said.

The fire broke out at the construction site and spread to another apartment building across the street, two houses and an electronics store, Bound Brook Police Chief Vito Bet told NJ.com.

No major injuries were reported in the blaze and as of Monday afternoon, officials still had no official cause for the fire.

Bound Brook Mayor Robert Fazen told WCBS 880’s Steve Burns that firefighters continued to hose down several buildings well into the late afternoon on Monday – noting that at least one had a number of hot spots inside.

“With respect to the investigation, I really can't tell you anything about that, I don't know anything. Until they finish they won’t be reporting anything to us – the Somerset County prosecutor and the ATF are doing the inspection,” the mayor said.

He says that while firefighters responded quickly, the fire spread rapidly and engulfed several buildings. He says wood framing on many of the apartment buildings went up in flames almost instantly.

“I think we had over five or six municipalities from all over New Jersey join us with a large hook and ladder trucks that took the hoses up and sprayed the water down on to the buildings,” Mayor Fazen said.

He said the help from the surrounding towns was crucial in battling the fire since Bound Brook’s fire department is smaller and didn’t have the equipment needed for such a massive fire.

Mayor Fazen was at the scene and watched as two apartment complexes under construction near the train station burned, sending bright orange flames soaring into the night sky.

"It's just devastating to see what happened last night," he had said. "The flames were horrible."

The fire started in an unoccupied complex called the Meridia Downtown, which Bound Brook Borough Councilman Abel Gomez said included 174 apartments and retail space. Gomez said the apartment complex across the street — also under construction — had space for 60 residential units and a restaurant.

Flames spread to a boarding house and a business, but firefighters were able to save a neighborhood of century-old homes.

Gomez said the destroyed complexes were developed with private funding and within the downtown redevelopment zone. The area had suffered a series of floods over the past two decades, and the apartments were supposed to be part of a downtown renaissance following the 2016 completion of a flood control project.

“Bound Brook was in the process of a renaissance,” Gomez said. “After all the floods we’ve had here, and now we have this fire.”

While the blaze was still burning, NJ Transit initially suspended the Raritan Valley Line in both directions, substituting bus service; service resumed after 3 a.m., but the line tweeted that Bound Brook Rail Station would be closed Monday.

Bound Brook is in Somerset County and around 30 miles west of New York’s Staten Island.

(© 2020 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)