At least 15 hospitalized after fire at Plainfield apartment building with history of problems

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Tuesday, December 5, 2023
At least 15 injured in fire at apartment with history of problems
Jim Dolan has the latest on an apartment fire in Plainfield.

PLAINFIELD, New Jersey (WABC) -- More than a dozen people were injured and many were displaced from a Plainfield apartment building on Monday morning, just months it was inspected for quality-of-life concerns.

The fire broke out on the fourth floor of the building at 515 West 7th St. at around 4:45 a.m.

Plainfield officials say that an electrical fault or a lithium-ion battery may have been the cause of the fire.

The building had been inspected by the quality-of-life task force due to complaints after its neighbor, 501 West 7th St., was condemned in August. Both buildings are owned by the same landlord and had hundreds of code violations.

After receiving complaints from residents, inspectors found gaping holes and leaking pipes in ceilings and walls and open sewer pipes in the condemned building. The 501 building was evacuated and closed but residents were allowed to stay in the 515 building,

Many told Eyewitness News that the landlord had ignored their pleas for help in fixing the deplorable conditions for more than a year.

On Monday, multiple residents were displaced after the fire and some were treated on the scene for injuries.

Officials say at least 15 people were taken to the hospital and 42 families were displaced, 35 of which were expected to be allowed back into their apartments once utilities were back.

The Red Cross is assisting the remaining seven families with shelter.

Neighbors say there has been no heat for weeks and to stay warm, families have used space heaters, which renters think may have started the fire.

Police allowed people to grab belongings and documents, but they say water has been coming out of outlets and apartments have smoke or water damage.

Investigators are still working to determine the exact cause of the fire.

Plainfield Councilman Richard Wyatt posted the following statement on social media:

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by the apartment building fire at 515 W. 7th Street. While the administration indicated that this building met safety standards unlike its condemned neighbor, we earnestly hope this remains the case. Sadly, this incident took place right before the holiday season. We await more details and encourage the community to stay informed for updates as we unite in offering our support to those affected. We express our gratitude to Plainfield Bravest and the fire departments of other municipalities for their commendable efforts."

RELATED | Some residents defy orders to vacate condemned buildings in Plainfield

Eyewitness News is told work will begin immediately after two buildings were condemned earlier this week in Plainfield. Reporter Crystal Cranmore has the latest.


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