Hundreds of people were displaced Wednesday after a massive fire raged through a four-storey apartment complex in New Jersey. The building was evacuated and the residents were taken to a nearby school while firefighters struggled to douse the blaze amid windy weather and frigid temperature.
The fire started at about 4:30 p.m. at the luxury apartment complex Avalon in Edgewater city, which lies about 10 miles from New York City. Authorities have not yet been able to identify the cause of the fire, which has so far not caused any injuries, according to The Associated Press (AP).
“Approximately 400 residents were evacuated and there were no injuries among the residents,” Edmund Rhoads, a spokesperson for AvalonBay Communities, the owner of the complex, said, according to NorthJersey.com, a local news website. Thick black smoke could reportedly be seen rising up from the building and was visible across the Hudson River in New York.
A state of local emergency was announced in the area, Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland, said, according to CBS New York, adding that schools will remain closed on Thursday and access to roads will be restricted until further notice. The fire was raised to more than five alarms as structures engulfed in the blaze collapsed.
“I came here around 5:30, and basically there wasn’t that much of a fire, but it was just smoke,” Hamza Alkhayyat, a resident at the complex, said, according to CBS NewYork, adding: “But now, as you can see, it’s horrible.”
The 408-unit complex had one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with prices ranging between $2,100 and $3,195 a month, The New York Times reported.
In 2000, a fire had started at the same location where a five-story condominium complex was being constructed. The fire had destroyed nine homes and damaged several others, AP reported. While the cause of the fire had not been determined, investigators ruled out arson. However, in a civil lawsuit, a jury found that negligence by the developer of the Avalon River Mews had contributed to the fire.