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Incident #75: Cover Laureldale Station 18-3

Incidents 2007Engine 16-3 and Support 16-1 responded for a cover assignment Laureldale Station 18-3 while they were at Weaton Plastics in Mayslanding for a structure fire.

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While on stand by, Elwood responded to a car fire on Rt 322 west bound near Custard Castle. E-16-3 and S-16-1 arrived and extinguished the fire that had engulfed the engine compartment.















We were released and returned to our Twp at 12:03am.





(From the Press of Atlantic City)

Mays Landing factory burns Second fire this year at site set for redevelopment as condos

By ELAINE ROSE Staff Writer, (609) 272-7215 Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2007





A kayaker paddles on Lake Lenape for a closer look at the fire Modnay that destryed the abandoned Wheaton plastics factory on Mill Road in Mays Landing. About 150 firefighters from five companies fought the blaze.



The multi-alarm fire destroyed part of the old Wheaton plastics factory Monday evening, the second fire to take place at the property this year. About 150 firefighters from at least five companies responded to the historic complex, which was under construction, said Lt. Ed Barr of Hamilton Township police. The fire, which was reported at about 6 p.m., started in the original building on the Mill Street complex.

Billows of smoke could be seen about 6 miles away at the Hamilton Mall, and the flames were visible from the trees on Lenape Drive, across Lake Lenape from the shuttered factory. Firefighters stood atop long ladders as they sprayed water onto the four-story main building. Others pumped water from the lake on the flames. Crews battled the fire late into the evening and still were attempting to contain the blaze at about 11 p.m.

The area was pitch black Monday night, as electricity in the area was turned off as a precaution, Barr said. Officials did not know Monday night what caused the fire. "They're not going to be able to go in until tomorrow," when there is daylight, to try to determine the cause of the fire, Barr said.

People near the building said the flames spread quickly. Jim McElrea, who works in Victor's Liquor Store across Mill Street from the Wheaton plant, said he was taking a cigarette break outside just before 6 p.m. when three children on bicycles rode up and said the place was on fire. They said they called 911 on their cell phones.

McElrea said he didn't see any smoke at first but did a few minutes later. "I just saw a raging inferno within about two minutes," said Robert Hahn, of Packrat Antiques, also across the street from the factory. "This thing went up really fast." Dozens of spectators came to the scene on foot, many bringing cameras and cell phones, as police blocked motor-vehicle traffic. Chris Willman, of Mays Landing, came with his daughter, Stephanie. Willman said he was at his nearby karate school when he got a call from a friend that his students would have trouble making it to class Monday night. He was a little surprised, but the factory is an old building, "acknowledged to be a fire trap for a while," Willman said.

Stephanie Willman said she first saw the fire in the tower section of the main building, "and then it spread." The Fieldstone Development Group of Newark is planning to turn about eight buildings on the 6-acre site into 180 upscale condominiums, many with views of Lake Lenape and the Great Egg Harbor River. The Township Committee approved the development plan last week.

Fieldstone president Mark Bellin said last week that the structures, originally built between the 1830s and 1920s, were well-constructed and that he would preserve as much of the exteriors as possible.

A May 29 fire damaged a portion of the roof of the main building, and it was believed to have been caused by heat from overhead power lines, Mays Landing Fire Chief Robert Valasek said at the time. Bellin could not be reached for comment Monday night.



Wheaton building fire called accidental

By THOMAS BARLAS Staff Writer, 609-272-7201

AC Press Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2007

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP - After a nine-week investigation, authorities say they believe they know what caused a fire that gutted parts of the old Wheaton plastics factory on Mill Street in Mays Landing in September. Officials from the Hamilton Township Police Department and Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office said it appears the fire began accidentally and was the result of some ongoing renovation work that involved the use of cutting torches.

However, they also said that the cause of the fire "cannot be determined with absolute certainty."

The Sept. 10 blaze gutted about three of the nine buildings on the six-acre site, which developers hoped to turn into upscale condominiums with scenic views of Lake Lenape and the Great Egg Harbor River. Authorities eventually ordered the demolition of some old, charred masonry walls, fearing those structures no longer were safe.

Investigators on Monday said the fire appeared to have started in a small building in the center of the factory complex. The location of that building allowed the fire to spread rapidly through several nearby buildings, they said.

Investigators said they ruled out "intentional ignition," and said there was no indication of criminal activity or evidence of people being on the property unlawfully. There also were no other "potential sources of ignition," they said. No information was available Monday regarding who was working in the building.

Township construction officials declined to release any information pending the submission of a formal request under the state Open Public Records Act.

Mark Bellin, president of Fieldstone Development Group of Newark, the condominium project developer, also wasn't available for comment.

The fire began at about 6 p.m. Thick, black smoke rose into the darkening evening sky and could be seen six miles away at the Hamilton Mall.

Authorities said the blaze drew units from about 24 fire companies. As many as eight other fire companies were on call to cover the communities whose firefighting equipment was in Mays Landing, they said.

Many firefighters remained on the scene overnight. Those who were left on the scene the next morning looked exhausted, done in from the heat of the fire and humid weather. Rescue personnel were still stocking a blue emergency tent with ice and drinks for firefighters at 9 a.m. that day.

The fire occurred a week after Hamilton Township Committee approved a redevelopment plan to turn the factory complex into the centerpiece of a program to help rejuvenate downtown Mays Landing.

Fieldstone planned to convert the complex into as many as 180 upscale condominiums. It also would include a place for people to walk along the waterfront and visit local stores.

Bellin said after the fire that the company planned to continue with its development plans.
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