IRVINGTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — An elderly man escaped an early-morning house fire unharmed in Irvington Thursday.

Residents raced toward the intersection of 21st Street and Hopkins Place Thursday to alert 69-year-old Robert Thompson of the blaze.

“I was laying in my bed when the fire started, and I realized it was a fire. I looked out the window. I see the blaze and feel the heat in my house. And I came out down the front stairs. I walked out,” he told CBS 2’s Jay Dow.

Irvington Fire (credit: CBS 2)

By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, two buildings were fully engulfed in flames.

Roberts says no else lives in his building, and the tenants who lived in the half dozen apartments next door recently moved out.

The corner deli is still in business, but was closed at the time of the fire.

Irvington firefighters say there were no injuries.

Asked if knew if the fire started in one building or in the alley in between, Randy Coddington, Acting Fire Chief, answered: “I don’t know. I have no idea. When I first got here, there was heavy fire in that alley.”

“Last week the bank boarded up the house, except for the store, and put all the people out. The way that fire went up so fast this morning,” said resident George Cook.

It will be up to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office arson task force to determine what or who caused the fire.

“From what I understand, Red Cross is supposed to be talking to me,” Thompson said.

The elderly resident is now looking for a place to live, only weeks before the start of the holiday season.

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