Western New Jersey

Hazmat prompts evacuations in Phillipsburg, New Jersey

Hazmat scare in Pburg

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. - A hazardous materials incident involving a chemical smell forced the evacuation of people from their homes in a Phillipsburg, New Jersey, neighborhood.

Emergency crews were dispatched around 2 p.m. Thursday to an apartment house in the 700 block of South Main Street in the Warren County town, according to Chief James Faulborn, Phillipsburg Police Department.

Residents of South Main Street, between Center Street and Limekiln Road, were ordered out of their homes as a precaution, Faulborn said.

"I get a phone call from my wife telling me to come pick her, the kids and cats up and usually it's like all right I get her and the kids, but why the cats?" said John Jorgensen, a neighbor who lives a block away from the scene. Jorgensen's wife called him at work to come pick up the family when they were getting evacuated.

"What's going through my mind is they better be safe and far enough away right now to where if anything does happen that they're safe," Jorgensen went on.

While the incident was reported to involve a suspected meth lab, Phillipsburg Police have issued a statement saying that the report was of a chemical smell coming from an apartment building.

Police say no hazardous materials were found inside the building.

Property manager Tracy Terry said she came out to fix a leaking sink in the third floor apartment at 705 South Main Street.

She said when she opened the door to the apartment she smelled an overwhelming chemical smell. She said it was so strong her chest was burning.

She said she saw two people go out the fire escape. She then called 9-1-1.

A source on scene says there were open nail polish containers and nail polish remover in the apartment and speculates that may have prompted the call to officials.

Police, fire, and hazmat personnel, as well as the Lehigh County Special Operations Team responded to the call.

At around 4:30 p.m., residents in the evacuated area were allowed to return to their homes.

The Phillipsburg Police Department and the Warren County Prosecutor's Office are investigating.

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