Firefighters battle blaze in apartment with hoarding conditions

Posted: Updated:

Fighting a fire inside of a Middlesex County apartment complex proved difficult for crews Thursday due to hoarding conditions inside.

The first started inside a unit at the Woodbridge Village Apartment Complex in the Avenel section of town just after 11 a.m. Witnesses said that there was a lot of smoke in the area due to the fire.

“I smelled the smoke…I didn’t give it attention, really. Then minutes later, I heard knocking on my door…and they told me, ‘You have to move, you have to move right now,’” says neighbor Mohamed Sadek.

Sadek said that he saw flames shooting out of the windows of unit 1804.

“It was heavy fire, heavy smoke conditions throughout the structure,” says Avenel Fire Chief Ayman Elbayar. “When we went in, we isolated it right to that second apartment.”

About 50 firefighters from Avenel and multiple mutual aid departments were able to get the fire under control in about an hour. But they said that it wasn’t easy due to the hoarding conditions inside.

“Interior crews made a real aggressive interior attack. Due to logistical and storage issues on the inside of the apartment, getting to the actual point of origin of the fire, the base of the fire, was a little delayed and difficult,” says fire official Cory Spillar.

Photos from inside unit 1804 show piles of bottles, trash, clothing and what is believed to be human feces filling up the living space. Hazmat units were called in due to environmental concerns and firefighters were put through decontamination as a precaution.

Officials say that they won’t be able to determine how the fire started until they can safely get inside.

“We have to have an environmental company come out and certify a few different details and until that, we are in a holding pattern,” Spillar says.

Unit 1804 has been deemed uninhabitable until the investigation is complete. Officials say that they know that the fire started in the back bedroom. The woman who lived in the unit was not home when the fire started.

This is not the first fire at this apartment complex. A fire destroyed two buildings in the complex in 2012.

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