EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP -- An entire building has been cleared out and sectioned off with police caution tape after firefighters responded to a blaze inside the Heathercroft complex, off Hingston Avenue, Wednesday night, evacuating 24 families.
At this time the families are allowed to collect their belongings, but none have been allowed back in to occupy the building, according to police Lt. Robert Gray.
Pictures of the fire show flames reaching to the roof, and it could be seen from the Garden State Parkway.
Bargaintown fire department Assistant Chief Will Hancock said the fire, which was called in at 11:46 p.m. Wednesday was under control more than an hour later, at 1:30 a.m.
All 24 families are still out of their homes at this time, Hancock said. Four apartments sustained heavy damage from fire and about six experienced water damage, he said.
Charred remains of the roof left a gaping crescent-shaped hole, with views of support beams in some homes.
The fire walls in the building, when the building is built, did prevent the fire from spreading to the back of the building, but a lack of sprinklers was the most disconcerting factor, Hancock said.
"When you have a building that size without sprinklers, it's always a concern. And with so many people living in one building," he added.
The families who are currently displaced are staying with family or friends, and some were helped by the American Red Cross, who also responded to the scene, Hancock said.
American Red Cross Southern Shore Chapter provided food and clothing for nine displaced families, according to spokesperson Laura Steinmetz. Hotel accommodations were provided for four families and five other families were leaving to stay with family or friends. In total 29 individuals, including 10 children, were assisted by the Red Cross.
Traffic was blocked on Fire Road and emergency response indicated there were some crowd control issues, according to those on scene.
Firefighters remained on scene for several more hours. One firefighter suffered minor injuries in battling the blaze and was transported to Shore Medical Center by an ambulance out of Linwood, police said.
The American Red Cross was on scene assisting the families displaced by the fire, and the fire remains under investigation.
Seven companies responded to the fire including Somers Point, Marmora and Northfield.
Check back for updates.