A toxic plume from Wednesday's massive warehouse fire in Central, New Jersey, floated safely up, and away, federal officials said.

Hundreds of New Jersey residents were evacuated in the early morning hours after the stubborn inferno -- fueled by cars, chemicals, plastics and household items -- erupted at the DCH Collision Center at 1600 Livingston Ave. in North Brunswick.

Firefighters were still dousing hot spots Thursday morning but the fire was largely extinguished, officials said. Dozens of people remained out of their homes.

A smoke plume could be scene from space floating toward the Jersey shore as the fire raged Wednesday.

It was another plume that officials worried about, however.

"There's no environmental hazard as of right now," said Dwayne Harrington, a spokesman for the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which is monitoring the North Brunswick fire scene.

Harrington said an invisible plume of chlorine, phosgene, and hydrogen cyanide safely away, but local water runoff from the scene must still be analyzed.

Among the now-destroyed businesses was one that manufactured plastics and held a half-million pounds of supplies on hand. Hundreds of vehicles were also incinerated.

Local fire officials had to pump from a nearby lake to help battle the blaze.

In all, 44 fire engines, 10 ladder trucks and 35 tankers responded, officials said.  

John A. Oswald is editor-at-large at Metro and can be found on Twitter @nyc_oz.
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