Industrial Park Fire in Somerset County Closes Schools with Toxic Smoke

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Industrial Park Fire in Somerset County Closes Schools with Toxic Smoke | F.E. Moran Fire Protection

Hillsborough, NJ -- Schools were closed after an industrial park fire sent black smoke billowing into the air.

The fire broke out around 3:30pm at a warehouse on Thursday.  It raged overnight and sent plumes of toxic smoke into the air.  The fire raged for fifteen hours before being contained.  The fire has been contained, but is not extinguished.

"I've been in the fire service for 33 years; this is right up there with the biggest fire that we've seen," said Christopher Weniger, Chief Fire Marshal.  "The wind was blowing it so horribly that we couldn't [stop it].  We would go up to try and stop it and it would run right by us."

The weather worked against the fire service.  The blustery winds and chilling temperatures made fighting the fire difficult.  The warehouse had inadequate fire sprinkler systems and the company had outdated water supplies, which hampered their efforts.  

The fire peaked at 7 alarms.

What sparked the fire is still unknown.  It started in a warehouse that had furniture, records, and plastic pellets.  Crews contained the fire to two buildings.

"Firefighting in the cold water [and] wind, all that stuff takes a toll on everybody and so that certainly is making it hazardous work conditions with ice on the ground [and] on our people," Weniger said. 

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