Transformer blast sparks fire at New Brunswick post office

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (PIX11) — Flames erupted beneath a New Jersey post office Monday, likely sparked by the explosion of an underground transformer, fire officials said.

It happened shortly before 11 a.m. beneath Bayard and Kirkpatrick streets in New Brunswick, the intersection that houses the city’s post office and police department among other municipal entities, the city said.

The fire prompted the evacuation of Civic Square, which includes the post office and police department, City Hall, the Middlesex county complex and buildings on Kirkpatrick Street.

City officials said the electrical blaze likely was caused by a transformer explosion.

All non-essential offices in Civic Square will remain closed for the rest of Monday. An estimated time of reopening has not been established, “but the hope is that it will be no later than Wednesday,” the city said.

Bayard Street is closed between George Street and Joyce Kilmer Avenue, the city said in a1:30 p.m. update. Kirkpatrick Street is closed between New and Bayard streets.

Witnesses posted photos online of thick black smoke billowing from the facility as flames lapped the sides of the brick building.

It does not appear that anyone was injured in the blaze.