PERTH AMBOY, N.J. (CBS 2) – Edward Quezada and his wife had bought all of their Christmas gifts for their 8- and 13-year-old children.
The gifts sat ready for their kids underneath the tree — some wrapped, some unwrapped.
But the gifts are now gone after a fire ripped through Quezada’s apartment complex on Sunday evening.
“We just bought them two days ago. We had them next to the tree to start wrapping them up and everything is gone,” Quezada told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.
Investigators are still trying to figure out the cause of the Harbortown Terrace Complex fire that left dozens homeless just five days before Christmas.
Quezada’s thankful they got out.
“She’s pregnant. They told her to jump. She didn’t want to jump. She was scared so the fire department put the ladder up so she could come down,” Quezada said.
After firefighters spent more than 12 hours to control the blaze, there were several flare-ups throughout Monday.
Residents said the fire started near the carport, but fire officials said it started near the courtyard and spread quickly through the roof because the buildings are h-shaped and connected.
Some said the sprinkler system didn’t work, either.
When asked if the sprinkler system worked, the building’s management simply said, “we’re not talking.”
One victim named Jasmine said she and her family lost everything.
But like the others who escaped the flames, she’s grateful for one thing this Christmas: that her family is okay.
“Only my dad and my mother [were home], but they got out,” she said.
A local businessman and pastor are trying to put together a toy and food drive. They were so touched by the devastation that they felt they had to do something.
The American Red Cross is housing many of the fire victims at a nearby hotel.