New Jersey apartment fire displaces hundreds

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 22, 2015 5:55 AM

(Reuters) - Hundreds of residents were displaced from their homes after a massive fire ripped through a New Jersey apartment complex, officials said, but no serious injuries were reported.

More than 350 residents were affected by the fire on Wednesday at the Avalon at Edgewater complex situated near the Hudson River across from Manhattan, Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland told reporters during a news conference.

All residents and pets from the apartment complex were accounted for by late Wednesday night, the city said in a Facebook message.

McPartland declared a state of local emergency in response to the blaze, adding that schools would be closed on Thursday and some nearby streets would have only limited access. About 160 people were being sheltered at the local community center, he said during the conference that was published online.

New York Yankees broadcaster John Sterling was among the tenants displaced by the flames, the New York Daily News reported.

"I don't know what to expect. Now, I have nowhere to go. And I need a toothbrush," Sterling told the paper from a hotel room.

"Maybe I'll get lucky and there won't be that much damage," he added.

New York City emergency officials warned residents in Manhattan and the Bronx that they might be able to see or smell smoke from the five-alarm fire, which started on Wednesday afternoon.

Flames could be seen ravaging the four-story complex, sending thick clouds of smoke billowing into the night sky as sections of the building smoldered or collapsed.

The New York Times reported that another massive fire ripped through the complex when it was still under construction in August 2000. That fire spread from the $75 million complex to engulf and destroy nine nearby homes and over a dozen cars.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)