PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Rescuers scrambled to put out a fire that tore through several homes in Paterson on Friday.
Charred houses could be seen from Chopper 2.
CBS2’s Alice Gainer was on the scene, just a block away from Eastside High School, where the fire started in an abandoned home and quickly spread.
Neighbors said it’s been a problem property for a while now, and they’ve been complaining about squatters inside.
The fire broke out around 2:30, Friday afternoon.
The flames quickly jumped from house to house, and consumed four buildings.
A CBS2 news crew observed a firefighter on a stretcher being treated for smoke inhalation.
Emotional residents were beside themselves.
“We’ve been here for 16 years, so it’s home you know. It’s really tragic,” Jose Correa said.
Correa is frustrated because he said they’ve been complaining about the abandoned property where the fire began for awhile.
“December 23, there was a small incident, and now a couple months later it’s even worse. It’s an actual fire,” Correa said.
Councilman Luis Velez said the city has been addressing the issue by boarding up the property, but he said squatters break back in.
“I did address that problem back in December. That’s when we boarded it up, but we cannot put every police officer by abandoned houses. Report it again, we’ll come back and close it,” he said.
So far there have been only minor injuries from the fire. Everyone inside the homes made it out okay.
There were some tense moments for Chasity Rolon as she tried to locate her sister’s pet.
“I’m just trying to get my dog. That’s my niece, she’s been in the family since she was a baby,” she said.
The dog was found safe.
Firefighters were still working to get the fire out. They brought in an excavator to move debris and reach hot spots.
So far eight homes have been damaged, and sixteen people have been displaced. There were four minor injuries reported — two of those were to firefighters.