Blaze At Apartment Complex Leaves 60 Families Homeless

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An electrical problem apparently ignited a stubborn fire that swept through a five-story apartment building in northern New Jersey on Saturday evening, authorities said.

The five-alarm blaze, which broke out around 5:30 p.m. and displaced about 60 families, broke out in a building on John F. Kennedy Boulevard and could be seen from as far away as the West Side of Manhattan, 1010 WINS reported. The fire began at the top of the building, CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported.

The blaze took about five hours to bring under control. Firefighters remained on the scene early Sunday morning dousing hot spots.

No residents were injured, but a firefighter suffered broken ribs while battling the blaze. His injuries were not considered life-threatening. Residents told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell that many pets were not able to be rescued.

Officials say it could be several days before all the displaced residents can return home. About 100 people lived in the building, while another 100 lived in an adjacent structure.

Some families returned to the building Sunday morning and saw the damage for the first time in the daylight, Burrell reported.

Calls about the smell of burning wood prompted a 911 call, the building super’s wife told 1010 WINS reporter Gary Baumgarten.

Roofing material including old wood and tar was quickly gobbled up by flames that produced thick, black smoke.

“We went up there and knocked on all the doors to get everyone out and we got everybody out,” building super Tommy Dhoud said.

The American Red Cross has been providing assistance to the affected residents.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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