PISCATAWAY, NJ — A five-alarm fire at the Pepsi resort in New Jersey filled the air with an acrid plume of smoke and forced the closure of roads around the burning resort Tuesday night.
Firefighters from across the region — including the New Jersey State Forest Fire Service — were on the scene trying to control the massive blaze. Piscataway Mayor Brian C. Wahler said the fire was under control Tuesday night, less than 4.5 hours later. was reported for the first time.
Two firefighters were injured in the blaze. One was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick for heat exhaustion. Another was treated at the scene for a shoulder injury.
Wahler said there was a significant response from emergency services throughout the area and they were coming and going in rotation overnight. He asked that the public stay away from the scene to allow firefighters and other emergency personnel to do their jobs.
The fire started outside the facility – which is the company’s main bottling plant for the tri-state area – although the cause remained unknown and is under investigation, a Wahler said.
The fire climbed outside the building and into the eaves of the roof and entered the interior of the building that way, he said.
A statement from Pepsi Media Relations read, “A fire broke out outside the Pepsi plant and warehouse in Piscataway, New Jersey on Tuesday evening. Details of how the fire started will be investigated.
The statement added: “First responders are working on scene to ensure the fire is brought under control and extinguished quickly. All employees and people who were at the facility were evacuated without injury.”
A USA TODAY Network photographer was able to see flames, some as high as 12 feet, from the street lighting up the night sky. Firefighters were also searching nearby woods for possible hot spots.
“It’s been around since the late ’80s and there’s never been a fire here before,” Wahler said. “If you drink Mountain Dew, it’s from Piscataway,” he said.
As the blaze was brought under control, there were four trucks pouring water onto the roof and firefighters would do so through the night. They were rushing water from New Market Pond to supplement their supplies, he explained.
“From what I understand, all the drills they’ve done over the years have paid off,” the mayor said.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the municipal government wrote: “A major structural fire is occurring in Piscataway and residents are asked to avoid New Brunswick Avenue, Carlton Avenue and Lakeview Avenue to allow first responder vehicles to gain access. Please do not drive to see the site and stay indoors if you can.