PASSAIC, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Some popular stores in Passaic were destroyed overnight when a fire swept through a building in the heart of downtown.
The fire broke out just after 9:30 p.m. Sunday at 684 Main St., completely gutting the Magic Sneaker shop and Bruno’s Pizzeria, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
Fire officials say the building was locked up and empty, but they believe it had been burning for some time before crews got reports of the blaze. Video from the scene showed flames leaping from the roof.
“When the firefighters first arrived, they found heavy, heavy fire,” said Chief Patrick Trentacost. “So we’re thinking the fire burned for a while before we got here.”
It took crews about five hours to get the fire under control.
“We have a partial collapse from the roof to the basement in the rear and several other collapses on the first to the basement,” said Trentacost.
The pizzeria had been a staple in the community for more than 20 years.
Owner Eduardo Ordonez said he closed the shop at 8 p.m. Sunday and the family business was engulfed an hour and half later.
“Yesterday we closed the store like every day, checked it out, everything is off and leave,” he said.
The loss couldn’t come at worse time for the popular eatery, just before a big holiday for the largely Peruvian neighborhood.
“It’s real sad for all of us,” Passaic resident Beatriz Torres said. “We have our independence coming up, Peruvian independence, 28th of July.”
“We cannot get in the stores right now because the fire marshal came and they have to check the stores,” said Brandon Ra, owner of Xios, a clothing store next to the destroyed building.
Two firefighters were treated for heavy smoke and heat exposure, but they have since been released from the hospital.
Trentacost said a total of eight businesses were impacted and two families who live in nearby buildings have been displaced because of smoke and water damage to their apartments.
The fire chief said it appears the fire broke out in the pizzeria. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Trentacost said once it’s safe, a crane and demolition crew will be brought in to take down what’s left.
Customers are hopeful that whatever the outcome that the beloved shop owners will regroup, rebuild and eventually reopen.
“We have to think positive,” Torres said. “Definitely, we have to think positive.”