Fire in Lodi

24 06 2009

LODI — Firefighters battled a smoky fire Tuesday night at a block-long abandoned industrial building on Garibaldi Avenue.The fire, at the former home of Interplast Universal Industries, was reported shortly before 5 p.m. Firefighters were still battling the blaze after 9:30 p.m.

“What we are doing is trying to put as much water as we can on it,” Lodi Fire Chief Lou Avola said.

Garibaldi and Columbia avenues were shut down as firefighters from the borough assisted by others from Hasbrouck Heights and Wallington try to extinguish the blaze. Interplast, which made vinyl-coated fabrics, is on the known contaminated sites list of the state DEP, but officials said the fire posed no threat. The two-story brick building was sold in October.

Late Tuesday, light towers were erected at the scene to illuminate the burned-out structure, said Bergen County Police Sgt. Robert Abrahamsen. Authorities also ordered parked cars off local streets so that heavy equipment could be brought in to clear debris.

Residents first reported smelling smoke, then seeing thick black smoke rise from the building.

“The smoke was really black. Black horrendous smoke,” said a resident who lives near the building.

The neighborhood is a mixture of residential two-story apartment buildings and industrial buildings.

Douglas Tucci, 34, who lives in an apartment one block away, said he called 911 after smelling, then seeing smoke.

“We came outside before there was any smoke, and we could smell it,” said Tucci’s wife, Debra, 44. “Within three to four minutes we could see a few puffs of smoke.”

Bergen County Hazmat units were at the scene but Avola said there was only a “bunch of wood” burning in the building.

“We have no idea why the wood was there or how much,” Avola said.

Authorities advised residents to close windows and shut off their air conditioners.

In a recorded message, police also advised residents they may experience low water pressure or brown water due to the fire.

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