Residents displaced by massive NJ warehouse fire still cannot go home

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NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A warehouse fire on Livingston Avenue in North Brunswick has been completely contained by firefighters, but township officials say displaced residents will not be able to return to their homes until Saturday at the earliest.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been continuously monitoring air quality in the area and has not found anything toxic, but smoke and debris particles remain a concern.

“We hope all displaced residents will be back in their homes tomorrow provided air quality monitoring allows,” North Brunswick Mayor Francis Womack said in an update on his Facebook page Friday.

“Displaced residents that need to access their homes for medical or emergency reasons should contact the police department for a police escort.”

Flames broke out at the warehouse that houses several businesses, including a collision repair center and plastics maker, about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. A cause is still under investigation.

Most of those affected by the ongoing evacuations live in an condominium complex behind the warehouse where the fire broke out.

“I’m happy that we’re OK and everything is OK. But also, you know, just stressed out with not having a place to live,” Monica Pelletier said.

Pelletier grabbed her dog and not much else when firefighters came banging at her door early Wednesday. She was able to get back into her home for five minutes Thursday to grab some essentials. Residents living on the fringes of the evacuation zone say air quality has been an issue.

“You’ve been a prisoner in your own home because you can’t go outside. It’s just too foggy and smoky and the smell is unbearable,” Christine Mattei said.

According to the Red Cross, roughly 100 residents have sought relief at a temporary shelter inside Linwood Middle School.

“This is really a place where families can come and gather and be safe and comfortable while they wait for information,” said Erica Viviani, a Red Cross spokeswoman.

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