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Fire Rips Through North Bergen Condo Complex, Displaces Over A Dozen

North Bergen Fire

A fire ripped through this condo complex in North Bergen Monday. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (CBS) – Firefighters Tuesday evening continued to douse part of a New Jersey condo complex that was largely destroyed by a raging fire the day before.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, the huge fire at the Roc Harbour condo complex in North Bergen, along the Hudson River, broke out early Monday morning. More than a dozen people were left homeless.

More than 24 hours later, firefighters continued to douse part of the complex. Robert Merlo watched as he sat in his car, and when the fire was finally extinguished, an empty space had taken the place of his home.

“It’s kind of difficult to comprehend all at once, waking up where everything is set and life is comfortable and you have beautiful home, and now you have nothing,” Merlo said.

Residents were sleeping when the fire broke out, but no major injuries reported.

And while Merlo lost everything, he was thankful that he, his family and dog escaped the massive flames.

“The smoke was very, very heavy and we couldn’t see; put in front of your face, and got on our hands and knees, and crawled out,” Merlo said.

Firefighters Tuesday afternoon were helping residents salvage what they could of their possessions. The fire left eight units uninhabitable, four others damaged, and a total of 16 people homeless.

“Somebody gave me these boots to wear, because I was freezing, and my sweat pants,” said displaced resident Krista McKerracher, who was trying to keep warm.

The smoke from the fire billowed across the river to Manhattan.

This was the second time the residents of the Roc Harbour complex have been displaced. Superstorm Sandy flooded their homes and their garage.

“(My dog) was evacuated during the hurricane, and she doesn’t want to go again,” said fire victim Dawn Bryan.

Officials said the fire started in a furnace room on the first floor, then spread throughout the buildings.

Crews will be at the complex on Wednesday, pulling whatever debris they can from the building to get to that first-floor furnace room and determine the exact cause of the fire.

Meanwhile, most residents were staying with family Tuesday night. The American Red Cross has been helping others with a place to stay.

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