EDGEWATER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Firefighters remained on scene late Monday after a fast moving fire tore through a multi-use building in Bergen County, New Jersey.
Authorities say flames broke out just before 7 p.m. on the first floor of the two-story building on Old River Road in Edgewater.
Video from the scene showed people trapped on a fiery balcony screaming for help as bystanders desperately tried to get ladders to them in time. The ladders fell in the chaos, and eventually the occupants above began to drop and jump down to escape the flames.
Ismail Demir was seen reaching up to help those jumping. His friend, Ilker Kesiktas, captured the rescues with his cell phone.
“Thank God nobody was dead,” Kesiktas told CBS2’s Valerie Castro. “That was our only concern, little injuries but we care about the lives of those kids.”
Edgewater Police Sgt. James Dalton and bystander Tony Nehmi climbed a ladder up on to the first-story roof after realizing children were trapped in the second-floor dance studio.
“The girl was so scared,” Nehmi said. “Crying, screaming. It was horrible.”
The two men were forced to break the window to rescue the girls.
“We couldn’t do it quick enough,” Sgt. Dalton said. “Once we got them out they told us they were the last two people in there. Big sigh of relief.”
Chopper 2 captured flames which spread to a wooded area behind the building.
Five people were taken to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The building where the fire started houses several businesses, including a car wash and a restaurant where it’s believed the flames originated.