NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Firefighters were to remain at the scene of a North Bergen building blaze Wednesday night into Thursday morning to monitor the situation and fight small pockets of fire.
The fast-moving 4-alarm fire started around 1 p.m. Wednesday at a mixed commercial-residential building on Broadway and 74th Street in North Bergen.
Heavy smoke and flames were seen shooting from the roof as crews worked to extinguish the fire and keep the blaze from spreading to nearby structures. The roof appeared to be heavily damaged.
The building was still smoking as of 11 p.m.
LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond On The Scene
Three buildings are completely gutted, and a fourth building suffered smoke and water damage, 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reports. Eight to 12 families have been displaced, and one man told Sheridan he lost everything in the fire.
The blaze forced children from a nearby school to cover their nose and wait until their parents could pick them up.
“Yeah it’s really bad especially for my asthma,” said student Diamin Torres.
“We put all the children inside the auditorium, and the bigger children were downstairs in the gym,” teacher Mayra Torres told CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis.
Two people were also injured: A woman who lived in one of the apartments suffered smoke inhalation, and a firefighter who pulled that woman to safety hurt his knee. Both are expected to be fine, Sheridan reported.
“She was in trouble. A lot of smoke, a lot of heat. The guy did a great job, great job,” North Bergen Fire Chief Frank Montagne told CBS 2′s Dennis.
A nearby bar owner told Sheridan the fire started in a corner shoe store and quickly spread to a dry cleaner. The apartments above were being renovated, so luckily no residents were in that building.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though firefighters are looking at one of the three businesses on the ground floor. Wherever it started, the flames spread from one building to another. The mayor said the building it was built before new safety fire codes were in place.
“There’s no firewall so they tend to spread. It wouldn’t be built this way today, but this is how it is,” Mayor Nicolas Sacco said.
Fire officials will determine Thursday whether parts of the building should be taken down.
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