Large Fire Engulfs Industrial Building in Elizabeth, N.J.

Flames engulfed a large industrial building in Elizabeth, N.J., early Friday, leading it to partially collapse, a city official said, adding that no injuries were reported.

The building, at 107 Trumbull Street, is in a complex that once housed the country’s first large Singer sewing machine factory, according to Bill O’Dea, a director of the city’s development corporation, who is also a Hudson County commissioner.

Ruby Contreras, a public information officer for the city of Elizabeth, described the scene Friday morning as a three-alarm fire, adding that a passerby first spotted the flames and reported them to the authorities around 5:30 a.m.

“It is currently a heavy fire and spreading, with some of the building collapsed already,” Ms. Contreras said.

Aerial footage of the fire showed a partial collapse of the building’s roof and thick, dark smoke billowing from the scene as the sun rose over the city. Fire crews were scrambling to douse the flames from a distance. The New York City Fire Department said it was sending two units to help.

A helicopter pilot for CBS News said on air that smoke from the fire was blowing toward Staten Island. There were also concerns that smoke could blow near Newark Liberty International Airport, just a few miles away. However, a Port Authority official said smoke from the fire was not currently affecting operations or flights at the airport.

Ms. Contreras said no one was believed to have been inside the building at the time of the fire.

The fire’s cause was not yet known.

At daybreak, dark gray plumes of smoke were visible from miles away, and officials in Bayonne, N.J., roughly five miles from the Elizabeth industrial complex, were encouraging residents to keep their windows and doors closed and to “avoid any extended time outdoors in direct path of smoke.”

The manager of the Trumbull Street building, reached briefly by phone about three hours after the blaze erupted, said that no one had been injured. The structure, he said, was being used only as a warehouse.

The building was part of a complex with a storied, century-long history, and had been the site of at least one other large fire, in 1890.

It was part of a manufacturing hub owned by the Singer Company beginning in 1872. Its earliest days were devoted to manufacturing sewing machines sold in showrooms in New York City, the company’s original headquarters.

It was once believed to be the largest factory in the world devoted to manufacturing a single product, employing as many as 5,000 workers in 48 buildings at its peak, according to a website that chronicled the company’s history.

During the first and second World Wars the plant was used to produce cannons, antiaircraft weaponry and wooden propeller blades, the website said.

The facility closed for good in 1982, when it employed about 1,000 people, and at least one section of the building at 107 Trumbull was available to lease last month.

Erin Nolan and Christine Hauser contributed reporting.

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