ROSELLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Authorities struggled to contain a fast-moving fire at an apartment complex Saturday morning in Union County, New Jersey.
The flames broke out just before 7 a.m. on East 3rd Avenue in Roselle.
People in at least 30 apartments rushed out into the cold, CBS2’s Marc Liverman reported. Some lost almost everything.
“We saw the flames coming from the corner, and that’s when I was like, we need to get out before it gets worse,” Kat Vega said.
No injuries were reported as roughly 100 firefighters, hampered by the frigid temperatures, worked to bring the blaze under control.
“The alarms were sounding, so people were evacuating the building,” one fire official said. “We had to pull a couple people off balconies with ground ladders.”
Tamisha Hopkins woke to the sound of smoke alarms.
“The smoke just started filling up my apartment to the point where you could barely see inside the apartment, so I had to just grab my kids and run out,” she said.
But in below-freezing weather, Hopkins and her children had nowhere to go.
“My kids had pajamas on and my 3-year-old he didn’t even have shoes on his feet,” she said. “So we were sitting on a lawn a couple houses down from the apartment building basically freezing.”
That’s when she met Melody Colanco, who lives just a few houses down. In the middle of the chaos, she offered Hopkins and her kids a place to stay.
“I’ve never met her, I’ve never seen her or anything, but she’s been a blessing,” Hopkins said.
“I’m just happy I can help her,” added Colanco. “I’m a human being, and that’s what we need here – more people with hearts and helping others, because it could happen to me.”
Now the new friends are connected through a simple act of kindness – one that Hopkins said she will never forget.
Authorities said the fire is believed to have started in an oven in a corner unit before spreading across the rest of the building.
Roughly ten miles away, over a dozen people were displaced after a fire likely caused by a space heater ripped through three houses roughly in Newark earlier Saturday.