NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The American Red Cross is currently assisting four families displaced by a fire at their Newark home.
Five people died in the fire that also trapped several others inside their homes, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s office.
Red Cross Disaster Action Team members met with family members to determine their immediate needs, said Diane Concannon, Chief Communications Officer.
Ten people who were displaced by the fire have received temporary lodging, and emergency assistance to purchase food and clothing. Referrals and comfort kits containing toiletries were also provided.
WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell On The Story
The fire started just after 1:30 a.m. Friday at an abandoned house at 31 Brookdale Avenue. The victims were found inside the house next door where the third floor collapsed.
1010 WINS’ John Montone reports
“We have a heavy load there right now where the collapse is,” said Fire Director Fateen Ziyad.
Part of the investigation will be whether dry fire hydrants contributed to the response efforts.
“We heard those reports early on. That’s a heavy volume of fire. You need multiple water sources and we may have had some water issues in the initial stages,” said Fire Chief John Centanni.
At the scene, emotions were raw as neighbors waited for answers.
“I ran out the building like ‘Oh my God.’ Everybody screaming call 911, call 911,” said fire victim Tyfees Jackson.
“It’s sad,” said neighbor Desiree Matthews. ”Going to be very, very sad around here.”
The flames jumped to three occupied houses, including 33 Brookdale next door, which took the brunt of the damage, including a roof collapse, CBS 2′s Weijia Jiang reported.
For hours, smoke poured out of the 3-story building where five families lived inside. Ricky Taylor told Jiang two of his neighbors’ kids, who were siblings, were among those killed. Taylor said he tried to pull them to safety.
“He was saying ‘my babies in there, my babies in there’, so I ran back up the back stairs to try to get his kids for him. I crawled through his kitchen floor but I couldn’t see nothing because it was too dark,” Taylor told Jiang.
Taylor said two of the other victims were a father and son.
Nearly 20 people were displaced by the blaze, officials said.
Neighbors said the abandoned house where the fire started is always filled with mattresses and drug needles, and they believe a squatter started the fire, Jiang reported.
The Arson task force is investigating.
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