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HAMMONTON - A large cold-storage facility appears to be a total loss after a late-night Thursday blaze that drew firefighters from five South Jersey counties and kept most on scene until mid-morning Friday.

Buffalo Farms Freezer & Cold Storage at 205 Pine Road, not far from North White Horse Pike, caught fire around 9 p.m. Thursday. Hammonton firefighters quickly called for assistance.

Nearby Collings Lakes Fire Department was the second company to arrive, and Chief Bill Donnelly on Friday said they found “a tremendous amount of fire.

“It burned from one end to the other, top to bottom,” Donnelly said. “A complete loss. I know that.”

Collings Lakes departed after around 12 hours on the scene at 9 a.m. Friday with the fire under control. The Hammonton Fire Department still was calling the scene “active” later in the morning.

Property records indicate the cold-storage facility, owned by the Mortellite family, is 40,000 square feet. Trailers outside the building also burned.

“The building itself is packed with a bunch of materials that, obviously, were combustible,” Donnelly said. “When the guys arrived, they were greeted with a tremendous amount of fire. We had guys both inside and outside trying to catch it. At some point, the guys inside had to get out."

On Thursday night, there was an unconfirmed report that two people were caught inside and evacuated by Hammonton firefighters. Donnelly said his understanding is the people were working inside, but that firefighters did help them get out.

 

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Donnelly estimated 25 to 30 fire companies responded from Gloucester, Camden, Burlington, Cumberland and Salem counties. The Atlantic County water tanker task force was activated to meet the demand for water, despite hydrants being present. The Vineland Fire Department is part of the task force and responded to the blaze. The Williamstown Fire Department covered the Collings Lakes area during the fire.  

Hammonton police Chief Robert Jones, who is handling the release of information on the fire, could not be reached at his office.

Joseph P. Smith; (856) 563-5252; jsmith@gannettnj.com

 

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