A fire sprinkler system is being credited with extinguishing a clothing fire and limiting damage to the apartment building at 151 Chambers Bridge Road, known as the Forge Pond Apartments, part of the Brick Township Housing Authority complex.
The Brick Township Fire Department was requested to respond on Monday at approximately 4 p.m. for a reported fire in the building, said Kevin Batzel, director of the Brick Township Bureau of Fire Prevention. The police department received numerous calls and a fire sprinkler alarm activation, leading to the response.
Upon arrival, firefighters, police officers and EMS located a rack of clothes in a common area kitchen off the first floor which had caught on fire. A preliminary investigation, Batzel said, revealed that one of the occupants had been using a lighter to burn errant threads from her sweater after leaving the laundry room and wound up accidentally igniting the clothes.
When the fire became too big, she attempted to move the pieces of clothing to a sink area to extinguish the smoldering fire, at which time the rest of the clothes ignited, activating a single sprinkler head in the kitchen which immediately controlled the fire.
“Residents are reminded to be extremely careful with any open flame around combustible material, including clothing, particularly synthetic items which tend to combust at a rapid rate”, said Batzel.
In addition, “the rapid action of a single sprinkler head held the fire damage to a minimum,” he said. “That, with quick work of the Fire Department and Emergency Services, prevented the potential of extensive damage and full building evacuation from happening.”
The building consists of approximately 101 apartments and tenants. In accordance with the evacuation plan, tenants were moved to a safe location within the building while firefighters secured the area and cleared the hallways and kitchen area of smoke. Water damage was minimal and the sprinkler system was repaired and put back in service that evening and all tenants were allowed to return to their units.
Responding agencies were Brick Township fire departments which included Pioneer Hose, Breton Woods and Laurelton Fire Companies, Brick Police, Brick EMS, Brick OEM and the Brick Bureau of Fire Safety, as well as an investigator from the Ocean County Prosecutors Office. Firefighters cleared from the scene approximately two hours later after clearing the building. One injury was reported to the tenant for minor burns to her arm.