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Condo Fire Forces Evacuation in Bedminster

Fire on Saturday afternoon apparently started on balcony.

Twelve condominium units have been evacuated in the Bedminster section of The Hills following a Saturday afternoon fire that appears to have started on the balcony of 2 Westcott Road and then spread into the interior and attic.

The owner of the home was not home at the time of the blaze, which apparently was reported by a neighbor at 1:44 p.m., said Far Hills-Bedminster fire officials.

None of the occupants of the evacuated homes were injured, but two firemen were sent to the hospital with possible heat exhaustion, said Far Hills-Bedminster Fire Chief Brian Bassett.

The chief said that investigators aren't sure yet what may have sparked the fire outside on the balcony of the second-floor unit, and he couldn't say what outdoor materials may have been in the vicinity of where the fire started.

Bassett said the fire spread from outdoors into the condominium's interior, and then worked its way into the attic.

The fire damage was confined to the one home where the fire started, with damage to the downstairs unit the result of smoke and water from fire hoses, he said.

However, firefighters called for the evacuation of the entire attached section of condominiums, with six units upstairs and six down, as the investigation continues.

Although the fire was put down within about an hour, firefighters remained at the scene until after 6 p.m., as the scene was secured. The first trucks were from Far Hills-Bedminster, Bassett said.

"These guys made an aggressive attack that pretty much saved the rest" of the units, Bassett said of the first firefighters to arrive.

Assistant Chief Eric Murphy said about 50 to 60 firefighters participated in extinguishing the blaze, along with emergency medical personnel at the scene. Firefighters and emergency responders came from the , and first aid squad and from Bernardsville, Peapack-Gladstone, Martinsville and Somerset County, the fire officials said.

Murphy said two cats lived with the woman who was the occupant of the condominium. However, he and a family member nearby said that witnesses said the cats had managed to jump out of the building, and escape.

For those who have no place to go, the Red Cross will assist, Bassett said.

Bedminster police were also at the scene. The investigation is ongoing, the chief said.

Mary MacRae April 22, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Thank you to all who worked so hard to contain this fire, no easy task, I'm sure. We are appreciative of your training, and grateful for your service to our community!

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