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Last week's extreme cold temperatures caused Stafford Township police, fire and water/sewer utility workers to respond to more than 20 calls involving frozen or burst pipes throughout town, and one incident that has residents of Stafford by the Bay Apartments, many of them elderly or disabled, temporarily displaced after evacuation due to a fire sprinkler pipe. The complex is an age-restricted affordable housing complex consisting of 84 one-bedroom units, according to Stafford Township Police Capt. Thomas Dellane.
On Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 4:15 p.m, he said, "a fire sprinkler pipe located in the attic of the complex froze and later burst, sending 4,000 gallons of water per minute from the broken pipe. It is estimated that it took 15 to 20 minutes to stop the water flow. The deluge of water caused ceilings to collapse and walls to buckle on the third floor of the complex and caused serious water damage throughout the entire complex."
Stafford Township Construction Official Robert Gaestel declared the complex uninhabitable until repairs are made to the sprinkler, electrical and other mechanical systems.
The residents, many of them in wheelchairs, were shuttled to the East Bay Avenue Community Center by way of buses from the Stafford Township School District and Stafford Township Dial-a-Ride. From the community center, most residents were able to make temporary lodging arrangements with family and friends, and a few were placed temporarily at the Manahawkin Holiday Inn. No injuries were sustained.