Ewing Township, NJ (Mercer) – In a series of unfortunate events on Friday the 13th of October, 2023, Mercer County experienced a string of incidents that left residents reeling. The most significant of these occurrences was a devastating fire in Ewing that engulfed both sides of a duplex, rendering 15 individuals homeless and injuring at least three people, including a brave firefighter.
The chaos began at approximately 9:10 a.m. when emergency personnel from Hopewell Valley were dispatched to the Kooltronic Inc. facility on 30 Pennington-Hopewell Road. Reports indicated a hazardous materials incident involving a spilled quantity of mercury from a broken barometer. The Trenton Fire Department’s HazMat task force was summoned to the scene to assist in containing and cleaning up the spill.
Shortly thereafter, at 9:31 a.m., Ewing Township fire companies received a distress call regarding a structure fire on Berwyn Avenue. As firefighters raced to the scene, a column of smoke billowed into the sky. They discovered that the second floor of one side of the duplex was fully consumed by flames, with the fire rapidly spreading to the adjoining side. To combat the inferno, additional assistance was summoned to the site. It took until 10:28 a.m. to bring the fire under control.
The American Red Cross and fire officials reported that a total of 15 individuals, including numerous children, were displaced from the two damaged homes located at 317 and 319 Berwyn Avenue. Two residents suffered from smoke inhalation, while one courageous firefighter experienced chest pains. These individuals received immediate care from Ewing and Lawrence ambulance crews, with the firefighter being transported to the hospital accompanied by Capital Health System paramedics. Reports also indicated that at least one additional firefighter was evaluated on-site by EMS.
The Ewing fire units that valiantly battled the blaze included Squad 30, Engine 31, Tower 31, and Engine 33. They were joined by mutual aid units from Hamilton, Lawrence, Hopewell Township, Pennington Borough, and Princeton. Mercer County Fire Coordinators were present to assist command staff. With a significant number of Mercer County firefighting resources committed to Berwyn Avenue, Burlington and Hunterdon county firefighters were relocated to the area to provide coverage in case of any further fire-related incidents.
After successfully handling the hazardous materials incident in Hopewell, Trenton firefighters were en route back to the city when they unexpectedly came across a motor vehicle collision at the intersection of Route 31 and Ingleside Avenue. They promptly stopped to render assistance to those involved.
Later in the day, Lawrence Township fire and EMS personnel were dispatched to the 2800 block of Brunswick Pike, where a driver lost control of her vehicle and crashed into the front wall of a strip mall. Thankfully, no significant injuries were reported.
Additional structure fires were reported throughout the county, including the 1200 block of Nottingham Way in Hamilton, Overbrook Avenue in Trenton, and Town Court North in Lawrence. Fortunately, investigations revealed that these incidents were false alarms, with no actual fires occurring. The “smoke scares” were attributed to cooking mishaps or steam from a clothes dryer vent, mistaken for smoke.
As Lawrence police responded to an incident on Princeton Avenue, where a woman had allegedly been threatened by a man claiming to possess a firearm (though no weapon was witnessed), EMS personnel were simultaneously attending to a reported cardiac arrest on Trumbull Avenue.
In a display of solidarity and cooperation, Princeton firefighters were summoned to assist Montgomery Township fire companies in Somerset County, as they grappled with a chimney fire on Dutchtown-Harlingen Road. Shortly after, Hopewell Valley fire companies were called into action to combat their own chimney fire at a residence on Linden Lane.
Throughout the day, first responders demonstrated their unwavering commitment to protecting the lives and property of Mercer County residents. Their selfless actions in the face of these unfortunate circumstances serve as a testament to their professionalism and dedication.