Investigators Probe Cause of NJ Inferno That Left 100 Homeless

Avenel's fire chief said he'd never seen a blaze like the one that erupted in Woodbridge Tuesday

By Katy Tur
|  Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012  |  Updated 10:33 AM EDT
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Firefighters have had to gut two buildings at a Woodbridge, N.J. apartment complex after a massive fire tore through them Tuesday afternoon, leaving them uninhabitable. Katy Tur reports.

NBC 4 New York

Firefighters have had to gut two buildings at a Woodbridge, N.J. apartment complex after a massive fire tore through them Tuesday afternoon, leaving them uninhabitable. Katy Tur reports.

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Authorities are investigating whether overcrowding played a role in the nine-alarm inferno that destroyed two buildings Tuesday at a central New Jersey apartment complex.      

No one was injured in the fire at the Woodbridge Village apartments in Woodbridge Township, but firefighters had to gut two buildings after the blaze tore through, making them uninhabitable. 

"It's too early to tell, but there [have] been issues with overcrowding in the past," said fire official Cory Spillar. "When people pack a space, they use more electricity and hook up more wires, which could lead to issues."

The blaze started just after 3 p.m. and quickly spread through buildings 36 and 37 at 305 Village Dr., authorities say. It appears it began in one unit in building 36.

A common roof enabled the blaze to spread quickly and prolonged the burn time, fire officials said. Two hundred firefighters were called to contain the fast-moving fire.

"I've been in the company 22 years, and I've never seen a fire like this," Avenel Fire Chief Frank Strain said.

Fifty units were destroyed in the blaze, leaving at least 100 people homeless. 

Gianna Covina stood transfixed and helpless Tuesday evening as she watched firefighters work to put out the flames.

"That's my room right there," she said, crying. "Everything I own is in there."

Maria Lena could barely speak as she sobbed.

"You don't know how much," she said. "You don't know how much."

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