ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A blaze tore through a Bergen County hotel Wednesday, as firefighters rushed to rescue guests trapped inside.
Three people suffered minor injuries in the fire at the Red Carpet Inn in Elmwood Park, officials told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.
The blaze, which reached four alarms, broke out around 1:30 p.m. Firefighters from at least seven departments responded to find a cloud of black smoke engulfing the hotel, which sits on Route 46 near the Garden State Parkway.
Gus, a worker at a restaurant located just feet from the hotel, told 1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr he saw firefighters use a ladder to rescue someone from a second-story window.
Elmwood Park Fire Chief Scott Muttel said firefighters rescued five people through the window.
“There was just a lot of smoke. First companies that were pulling up were getting ladders and rescuing people from the second floor that were trapped,” he said.
The cause of the fire wasn’t clear Wednesday afternoon. Although arson investigators were on the scene, the fire chief stopped short of calling the blaze suspicious.
Monica Pearson, a chambermaid at the hotel, said the fire started on a mattress in an unoccupied first-floor room.
She was alerted to the flames by a screaming woman.
“I came running down the stairs and saw the fire,” Perason said. “We threw water on it, and the managers came down. Then all of a sudden, it went very quickly.”
Pearson said she tried to grab a fire extinguisher, but by then, she was overcome by smoke. She raced out of the hotel, banging on doors as she ran.
Later, she stood shivering and wrapped in a blanket as firefighters rushed in with hoses.
The hotel’s owner, Raj Ghandi, was equally shaken, making frantic calls on his cell phone while watching as the inside of his hotel turned to nothing more than a charred mess.
“I don’t want to talk right now,” he told CBS 2. “I’m just kind of very upset.”
Images from the scene posted on Twitter show smoke pouring out of the hotel’s windows.
PIC: Elmwood Park Bergen County, NJ 2nd alarm hotel fire w/ people out the windows. Credit: Jasiu Kutarnia pic.twitter.com/K7E4VbpVpN
— N. Jerzy Fire Alert (@NJerzyFireAlert) April 16, 2014
Witness Alex Conte said the inside of the building was “trashed.”
“It’s sad,” Pearson said. “It’s sad because all these people that work together, they’re very good to work for, and they care about each other.”
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