Red Cross assists victims after devastating Carteret apartment fire

CARTERET, New Jersey (WABC) -- The aftermath of the huge fire on Friday afternoon is still sending shockwaves through the dozens of families who lost everything in Carteret, New Jersey.

Local officials have set up a donation site at the community center to help gather clothes and other necessities for the 75 residents left homeless by the fire.

The blaze raced through the rooftop of building 4 of the sprawling complex at Bristol Station Apartments.

The floors of the building pancaked down making it impossible for residents to get back inside to get any of their possessions.

It appears the fire began in a second-floor apartment and once it hit the roof it spread quickly.

There was no fire suppression system in the roof because at the time the complex was built it was not required.

But these kinds of buildings are similar to others that have had massive fires in New Jersey.

Two cats are still missing after the fire and their owner is crushed. He said he and his wife can't have kids, so the cats are their children.

"I'm trying to hold it together as well as I can, it's harder for my wife. I'll deal with it when I can. I feel devastated," said Jamie Tanner, a resident.

COVID prevents the Red Cross from setting up victims in large facilities such as schools and big congregate living spaces.

The agency is trying to keep residents at a hotel while working to find them a more permanent living space.

"Our first priority is to get people into a more stable environment, right? So the Red Cross provides immediate shelter, immediate assistance, and we're working with our government and other non-profit partners here in Middlesex County to determine what the next step is, but our primary objective is to keep people safe during COVID," said Matthew Teter with the Red Cross.

Demolition started over the weekend. It's expected to take time to get the demolition fully completed due to its proximity to the other buildings.

Donations are currently being accepted at the Deverin Library/Community Center at 100 Cooke Avenue. They are taking non-perishable food items (no cooked food or open containers), new or lightly used and cleaned clothes, and new personal items. They cannot accept cooked food or used personal items.

The donation center is open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

If you are interested in donating your time to help organize the donations, you can call 732-541-3890.

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