A fire erupted in the trash room of the Heritage Village, a 55-plus community in the City of Lambertville, forcing the days-long evacuation of facility.
The small Sunday afternoon blaze was quickly extinguished by a sprinkler, but water damage affected nearby rooms and the mechanical room on the floor below, according to an update from Mayor Andrew Nowick.
As a result of the incident, the electric and gas supplies were shut off, leading the management at the Brunswick Avenue facility to inform the occupants of the eighty-seven apartments that they needed to be relocated.
In the aftermath of the incident, two residents were relocated to Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington for further assessment, the mayor said.
The mayor explained some residents who had friends and family in the area left later in the afternoon, but approximately 30 residents remained without a place to stay.
Nowick wrote he made the decision to relocate the remaining residents to the New Hope Inn and Suites in Solebury Township instead of activating the Hunterdon County emergency shelter in Milford Township.
Police Officer-In-Charge Lt. Robert Brown ended up calling a LINK bus to help those in wheelchairs, and a school bus was used to transport the others, the mayor said.
By 11 p.m. on Sunday, all remaining residents, including several pets, were settled into their temporary accommodations.
City staff worked Monday and Tuesday to provide meals for the displaced residents staying at the hotel.
Nowick said all residents were able to return to Heritage Village by noon Wednesday.
“Overseeing the safety, security and well-being of these residents during an evolving situation was a monumental undertaking and the community owes a debt of gratitude to everyone involved: our Fire and Police departments, the Officer-in-Charge, the Fire Official, the Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator for the County, the CERT members, the LINK, the Construction Official, the Electrical inspector, the Director of Social Services, the staff at City Hall, our representatives at JCP&L, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and, lastly, the hotel staff, who were gracious and flexible,” the mayor write in his weekly email.
The mayor added: “As I reflect back on three intense and tiring days, I am full of pride for everyone in this City who is prepared, organized, intuitive, proactive, compassionate and committed.”