Blaze That Hit 5 Homes Knocked Down, Now Investigation Into Cause Begins

PERTH AMBOY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Eleven families find themselves starting over after nearly everything they owned was destroyed by fire on Friday.

Flames leaped from home to home, quickly spreading through row houses in Perth Amboy. The blaze swept through five homes in total, fire officials said.

With their lives in ruin, residents said they are looking for help.

Firefighters first arrived at the site of the blaze at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Approximately 45 people were being sheltered at a nearby school as fire investigators tried to figure out how the fire started.

“We’ll look into whether it started exterior and worked in or if it started interior and worked out to the exterior, but it did spread rapidly along the back of the buildings,” said Perth Amboy Fire Chief David Volk.

Five roofs are gone and top-floor furnishings were set on fire. Gusty winds pushed the flames from home to home on West Side Avenue, officials said.

The duplex Stephanie Cruz shared with her parents, brother and cousin was destroyed.

“We’re all OK. That’s most important,” Cruz told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin. “I just want to be around here because I’m not going to be able to go in there ever again. I just need support — whether it’s emotional and just everything like…because I have nothing.”

Stephanie Cruz is among those whose home was destroyed. (credit: CBS 2)

Stephanie Cruz is among those whose home was destroyed. (credit: CBS 2)

In the arms of 12-year-old Jaileen Rivera was her 6-week-old Teacup Yorkie named “Bam Bam.”

Before anyone could stop her, she ran back in to her family’s burning home to rescue the puppy.

“I couldn’t find him so I spent about two minutes to look for him, but I found him ran out as soon as I can,” Rivera told Carlin.

There were tough, chaotic conditions for the more than 50 firefighters responding to the fire.

Because not only did the high winds push the blaze down the line of structures, it also caused several brush fires to flare up. With the blazes knocked down, the investigation started to ramp up Friday night.

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