October 14, 2023
Story by: Michael Ratcliffe
EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–For those who are superstitious, yesterday – Friday the 13th of October, 2023 – more than fulfilled expectations for unfortunate and unlucky happenings in Mercer County.
At the top of the list of unhappy events that occurred yesterday was a disastrous fire in Ewing that damaged both sides of a duplex, leaving 15 people homeless, and injured at least three people, including a firefighter.
A hazardous materials incident, multiple traffic accidents, more fires and other emergencies had firefighters, emergency medical personnel and police racing all other the county yesterday.
The chaos kicked off shortly about 9:10 a.m. when Hopewell Valley emergency personnel were sent to the Kooltronic Inc. facility at 30 Pennington-Hopewell Road for a hazardous materials incident reportedly involving a quantity of mercury that spilled out of a broken barometer. Trenton Fire Department’s HazMat task force was called to the scene to help contain and cleanup the spill.
At 9:31 a.m. Ewing Township fire companies were dispatched for a reported structure fire on Berwyn Avenue. A column of smoke was visible as firefighters responded. They arrived to find the second floor of one side of a duplex well-involved in fire, with flames spreading to the other side. Mutual aid was called to the scene to help battle the blaze. The fire was not declared under control until 10:28 a.m.
According to the American Red Cross and fire officials, a total of 15 people (many of these being children) were displaced from the two damaged homes – 317 and 319 Berwyn Avenue. Two residents reportedly suffered smoke inhalation and one firefighter reportedly suffered chest pains. All were cared for by Ewing and Lawrence ambulance crews and the firefighter was transported to hospital accompanied by Capital Health System paramedics. There were also reports that at least one other firefighter was evaluated on the scene by EMS.
Ewing fire units that fought the fire included Squad 30, Engine 31, Tower 31 and Engine 33. Mutual aid units on the scene included Engine 10-2 and Truck 10-1 from Hamilton, Rescue 20 and Tower 20 from Lawrence, Engine 50 from Hopewell Township, Engine 51 from Pennington Borough, and Rescue 60 from Princeton. Mercer County Fire Coordinators were on scene assisting command staff.
With so many Mercer County firefighting resources committed to Berwyn Avenue, firefighters from Burlington and Hunterdon counties were relocated into the area to provide coverage in case there was another fire reported.
After handling the HazMat incident in Hopewell, Trenton firefighters were enroute back to the city when they came upon a motor vehicle collision at Route 31 and Ingleside Avenue and stopped to render assistance.
Later in the day, Lawrence Township fire and EMS personnel were sent to the 2800 block of Brunswick Pike where a driver had lost control of her vehicle and crashed into the front wall of a strip mall.
Structure fires were also reported yesterday in the 1200 block of Nottingham Way in Hamilton, Overbrook Avenue in Trenton and Town Court North in Lawrence. Fortunately, these were all found to not be real fires and just “smoke scares” caused by cooking mishaps or steam from a clothes dryer vent being mistaken for smoke.
Around the time of the possible fire on Town Court, Lawrence police were also responding to an incident on Princeton Avenue where a woman had allegedly been threatened by a man who claimed he had a gun, although no weapon was actually seen, and Lawrence EMS personnel were responding to a reported cardiac arrest at an address on Trumbull Avenue.
Then Princeton firefighters were called up into Somerset County to help Montgomery Township fire companies handle a chimney fire on Dutchtown-Harlingen Road. And a short time later, Hopewell Valley fire companies were called out to deal with their own chimney fire at a home on Linden Lane.
Photos by: Brian McCarthy