Firefighters worked for two hours to contain a fire that burned through a three-story building in South River on Dec. 24.
The South River Fire Department was called to 11 Main St. just before midnight for a reported smoke condition with people possibly trapped in a building.
Upon arrival, heavy smoke was showing from the three-story ordinary constructed building.
Firefighters advanced hand lines inside to attempt an interior attack and conduct searches of the apartments, but were forced to back out due to deteriorating conditions. The age of the building and void spaces in the construction helped the fire advance quickly into the cockloft and then through the roof. All firefighters were evacuated from the building.
Several master streams, including ladder pipes from South River, East Brunswick Independent and Milltown were set up to battle the blaze from a defensive mode. The entire roof was eventually consumed by fire and collapsed into the third floor of the building, resulting in flames and embers lighting up the night sky.
Master streams were able to darken the visible fire in 90 minutes, but continued to flow thereafter to extinguish remaining hot spots.
The fire took approximately two hours to bring under control, but fire personnel remained on scene to conduct extensive overhaul and assist with the investigation.
Several mutual aid fire departments from surrounding towns were summoned to assist at the scene and to cover the town during the incident.
The American Red Cross was called to to assist the displaced tenants.