🔥The Fish Organization serves over 2,500 people in the Piscataway area

🔥Discussion is already underway about continuing services

🔥Mayor Brian Wahler said the building was "substantially compromised"


PISCATAWAY — A 100-year-old building housing a food pantry went up in smoke Wednesday morning, the second fire at a New Jersey foot pantry in three days.

Firefighters responded to the smokey fire at the building on New Market Road around 7:15 a.m., causing the road to be closed between Union and McKinnon streets.

Piscataway Mayor Brian Wahler, who was at the scene, said the fire was mostly out by 9:30 a.m. with firefighters working on hot spots inside the wooden structure. Wahler said a Conrail line was temporarily shut to run hose over the tracks.

The building was "substantially compromised," according to the mayor. No firefighters were injured and no one was inside the building at the time. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Fire at the Fish Inc-Dunellen Area food pantry in Piscataway 2/28/24
Fire at the Fish Inc-Dunellen Area food pantry in Piscataway 2/28/24 (@LaurenDue12 via X)
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Mayor: We'll figure out how to continue services

The building is owned by the First Baptist Church of New Market and leased to the Fish Organization. It also serves as a clothing drop-off site.

"They have approximately 2,500 clients that are signed up and then on a weekly basis they may have 60 plus families that will stop in for either food and or clothing," Wahler said. "This is a regional pantry site in Central New Jersey. It handles mostly Plainfield, Dunellen, Middlesex and South Plainfield."

The mayor said efforts are already underway to come up with a way to assist those served by Fish. One of the big issues will be getting refrigeration units to store perishables. Fish was already preparing to distribute food for Easter dinners.

"We need to. We'll figure it out," Wahler said.

Wahler said that many high school seniors earned their volunteer credits by working at the pantry.

Clinton food pantry also hit by fire

The Open Cupboard Pantry in Clinton continues to recover from Sunday night’s fire that destroyed its location on old Route 173. They have shifted operations to their other location in Washington Township.

Pantry executive director Jennifer Tavormina said on the organization's Facebook page that monetary donations and gift cards can be dropped off at Reiner Insurance located at 37 Main St. in Clinton.

"We will rebuild. We have a plan in place. I have an amazing team. Our friends, our family, our donors, our neighbors, our businesses, our local organizations and churches, our schools and our elected officials have all come together to rally around this amazing agency that does so much more than provide food for our clients," Tavormina wrote.

Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach told News 12 that a fire wall protected Open Cupboard and Just Subs from serious fire damage. Much of their damage is the result of water and smoke. Approximately 20 Walgreens employees have been relocated to other locations. The cause of the fire remains under investigation

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