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Plainfield, New Jersey families survey damage from apartment building fire

Plainfield families survey damage from apartment building fire
Plainfield families survey damage from apartment building fire 02:09

PLAINFIELD, N.J. -- Plainfield, New Jersey fire officials believe an electrical fault or lithium-ion battery may have caused a fire that forced dozens of families from their homes

Some families returned Tuesday and found a big miss. 

Sarahi Castro let us into her waterlogged basement unit at 515 West Seventh Street after the fire ripped through her apartment building Monday

"It's just wet everywhere. The beds are wet, everything is wet. So we just have to at this point find somewhere else to live, and it's really hard because there's really nowhere else to go," said Castro. 

Some of her belongings are now part of the rubble outside. 

Castro, who is eight months pregnant, said the building had problems, like no heat, even before the fire. Some residents used standing heaters after a boiler broke, she said. 

"People say that it did break on Saturday, but there's other people saying ... that it hasn't worked since last summer and that there hasn't even been a boiler," said Castro.

Magda Vasquez, the building's property manager, brought dozens of new portable heaters to distribute to the families Tuesday. 

Vasquez said Cyclone Properties, which has owned the building and a condemned one next door for about a year and a half, warned residents in a note that it was repairing a boiler. 

"They all knew that they had a non-working heater prior to even the owners buying the building. I just happened to come in as a property manager and I realized there's a cracked boiler and we had to change it," said Vasquez. "And we've been doing this continuously since I've been here trying to get companies to come in and change this boiler." 

A Plainfield spokesperson said 15 people were rushed to the hospital and that 35 out of the 43 families forced out were allowed back in. 

City officials said the Red Cross is helping seven families that were displaced. 

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