March 20, 2024

Princeton Fire Department Responds To Three Fires in Town in Recent Weeks

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Fire Department has been dispatched to three different fires in Princeton in the last two weeks, with some significant damage occurring and several residents displaced from their homes, but no injuries reported.

The fires, noted by Department of Emergency and Safety Services Director Michael Yeh, included an apartment fire on March 5 at Redding Circle, a gas line fire at a PSE&G work site on Nassau Street in front of the Princeton University Store and Labyrinth Books on March 12, and a house fire on Spruce Lane on March 13.

The Fire Department reported that upon their arrival at the Redding Circle complex at about 7:30 a.m. on March 5, a fire was venting from a rear second floor window and extending into the attic. Crews extinguished the fire in the second floor bedrooms and the extension into the attic.

With assistance from the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad; Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (Mercer County Station 66); Plainsboro, Hamilton, and Kingston fire departments; and West Windsor Emergency Services, the fire was held to one alarm and further damage was limited.

There were two residents at home at the time of the fire. The cause remains under investigation, according to Yeh. The apartment has been deemed unsafe by the Princeton Construction Department. The residents were assisted by the Princeton Human Services Department, Princeton Housing Authority, and the American Red Cross.

Human Services reported that the residents were placed in an area hotel for three days, and then moved to another unit on Clay Street under the oversight of the Princeton Housing Authority (PHA).

PHA Chair Felicia Spitz, in a letter in the Town Topics Mailbox last week, praised the dedication and hard work of the PHA staff in helping the displaced residents. “All five families impacted by the fire have been able to return to their homes,” she wrote. “The family living in the unit where the fire occurred has been relocated to a newly renovated unit, while we await the results of the fire investigation report.”

The PHA has been coordinating assistance for the displaced families, including a GoFundMe site, and donations of gift cards, clothing, shoes, and other essentials.

Olivia Gonzalez, the organizer of the GoFundMe fundraiser and a friend of the two brothers in their 20s who lived in the apartment where the fire occurred, expressed appreciation for the help from the community. “Many organizations have been a blessing with being hands-on in assisting in attempting to gather everything that the boys could possibly need,” she wrote on the GoFundMe site.

She noted that it was an electrical fire, and although the two young men were able to get out safely and rescue their dog and cat, very few of their belongings could be salvaged.

On Tuesday, March 12, as PSE&G contractor Waters and Bugbee were carrying out their ongoing work on gas main replacements and tie-ins on Nassau Street, the Princeton Fire Department was dispatched at 8:46 p.m. to the area of 122 Nassau Street for a gas line fire.

The utility crew had struck a low pressure gas line, which ignited, and the gas was burning off in the middle of the roadway. PSE&G was notified, and they shut off the gas and made repairs. Nassau Street was closed to traffic between Washington Road and Bayard Lane until 5:23 a.m. No other damage or injuries were reported.

On the morning of March 13, just before 8 a.m. there was a house fire in the first block Spruce Lane. The first crew of the Princeton Fire Department to arrive was able to extinguish the fire that had broken out in the kitchen area of the house.

The homeowner was not at home at the time of the fire. The home was deemed unsafe to reside in by the Princeton Construction Department. The homeowner was assisted by Princeton Human Services and was placed in an area motel where he will be staying for about two weeks, according to Human Services.