WEEHAWKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — At least one police officer and several firefighters were injured Tuesday trying to rescue residents from a five-alarm fire at a multi-family home in northern New Jersey.
Residents said they were sent running for their lives after the fire broke out on the first floor of an apartment building on Hackensack Plank Road in Weehawken around 9 a.m.
“It was just like something exploded — literally flames and fire,” said witness Adnan Javed, who shot video of the fire.
“It just went up in flames,” another witness said. “It happened very quickly.”
Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to a commercial building and four other row houses, but more than four hours after it started they were still spraying water on the stubborn fire, CBS 2’s Don Champion reported.
Nicola Blount, who lives on the second floor of the building, said she was leaving for work when she heard fire alarms going off downstairs.
“My husband was going to stay there because he thought someone was cooking or something, and when I walked outside, I saw flames coming out of the bottom,” Blount said.
That’s when she alerted her husband and they, along with other residents, ran out.
“Windows were bursting a minute after everyone got outside to the sidewalk,” Blount said.
All the residents were safely evacuated, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.
But a police officer, who was quickly overcome by smoke while trying to get people out of the burning building, was taken to the hospital, Champion reported. Several firefighters were also treated for smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire was not known Tuesday afternoon.
All six apartments in the building were gutted, and residents are now faced with having to start over.
“I’ve lived here for 11 years, so everything I have is in that building,” Blount said.
“I’m a painter, and all my canvases, everything was in there,” resident Franck De Las Mercedes told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “Twelve years worth of work went up in flames, so it’s pretty devastating.”
The American Red Cross is helping five families displaced by the fire.
One resident is said to be unaccounted for, but neighbors said they believe that resident was out of town at the time of the fire, Champion reported.
NJ TRANSIT briefly suspended service on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail between Marin Boulevard and Harsimus Cove due to fire department activity.
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