Massive fire destroys East Windsor, NJ apartment building; 24 families displaced

Tuesday, June 11, 2024 8:11PM
Massive fire destroys NJ apartment building; 24 families displaced
Officials say in total, 47 people were displaced. The town provided hotel rooms to those who did not have places to stay overnight.

EAST WINDSOR, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Nearly 50 people from 24 families are displaced after a massive three-alarm fire ravaged an apartment building in Mercer County, New Jersey.

The call came in around 4:45 p.m. Monday for smoke coming from a closet in a second-floor apartment on the unit block of Avon Drive in East Windsor.

Chopper 6 over multi-alarm fire in Mercer County, NJ on June 10, 2024.

According to Hightstown Station 41 Deputy Chief Kevin Brink, it is believed the fire started in the "K" building.

When crews arrived, flames were shooting through the roof of the 24-unit property.

Action News has been told the initial reports came in as smoke coming from someone's closet.

"By the time the first arriving units got on scene, the fire was already through the roof," said Kevin Brink, Deputy Chief Hightstown Fire Station 41.

Twenty of the units suffered heavy fire and water damage.

Officials say in total, 47 people were displaced. The town provided hotel rooms to those who did not have places to stay overnight.

One man said he only has the shoes and clothes he was wearing while at work when he heard about the fire.

"I'm pretty shook up still. I don't know really -- to take everything in right now," said resident Brent Sullivan. "I have a tire business right down the street on 33. I was just at my business and everybody started calling me saying, 'Hey, it looks like you're apartment is on fire' and I thought it was a joke."

But Sullivan quickly realized just how serious the situation really was.

The smoke could be seen for miles as firefighters worked for hours to get the fire under control.

"I feel really bad to see all my neighbors coming out. They were all crying yesterday," Sullivan said.

The Action Cam was there as firefighters returned two cats to their owners. One of the cats was soaked from all the water sprayed at the scene.

As for what happens now, Sullivan said he has a place to stay and is thankful that no one was injured, adding that he still has a business to run.

"No days off, man. I don't stop it's what I do," he said. "That's why it sucks because I work super hard for everything that I have, so to see it all go is crazy."

Sullivan and many residents have insurance.

Red Cross disaster volunteers are said to be meeting with the displaced families on Tuesday.

No injuries have been reported, but several pets remain missing.

Deputy Chief Brink says there are only individual fire alarms on the property.

"There are no central station alarms here. There are no interconnected alarms. The only thing that has alarms are the two utility rooms -- one on each end. The fire didn't start in those, it started in someone's apartment, that relies on somebody to make a phone call," said Brink.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office also has officials on the scene working on this investigation.