Hundreds of firefighters responded to the blaze, which broke out around 2 a.m. Wednesday in the rear of the complex that is used by eight businesses off Livingston Road in North Brunswick, Fire Chief Donald Salzmann said.
The flames quickly overtook a sprinkler system and spread from one end of the building to the other.
“We were trying to keep it under control and try to save half the building, which we were unsuccessful in doing,” Salzmann told 1010 WINS’ Rebecca Granet.
The massive blaze lit up the night sky and the billowing thick smoke was visible on a weather satellite photo.
Firefighters decided to let it burn out and could be on the scene dealing with hot spots through the evening, the chief said.
Residents of a nearby apartment building were evacuated after heat from the blaze set the siding on fire. Others were moved as a precaution over fears of potential toxins being released from the burning plastic.
Many said they awoke to the smell of smoke and the sounds of several explosions.
Officials were monitoring the air quality. They had not detected any dangerous levels of toxins, Mayor Francis Womac III said.
The mayor recommended nearby residents stay inside and turn off their air conditioners as a precaution. Officials were helping residents with respiratory health problems move, if they were unable to do so.
Read more at CBS NEW YORK.