ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A fast-moving fire in New Jersey, burning for hours, has now displaced several residents in Elizabeth.

All told there were five families affected and 20 people with no place to live.

Heavy smoke clouded the sky darkening a sunny fall afternoon on Wednesday; making it hard for everyone here to see and breathe.

“We were coughing all the time, it was really uncomfortable trying to walk as far away as possible,” Shay Martinez told CBS2.

The fire was fierce and had already ripped through this entire second floor by the time firefighters arrived Wednesday afternoon.

“Shortly thereafter we had a collapse in the rear of the building, forcing firefighters out,” Thomas McNamara, the Elizabeth Fire Chief said.

Chopper 2 was over the scene as the flames roared around that time, shooting out of the roof of the home on Westfield Avenue in Elizabeth. Ashes were flying just as kids were coming home from school.

“We just saw the whole house go up in flames,” Areeb Rafiq said.

“It was one of the most heartbreaking news that I ever felt,” Justin DeBono added. “Never thought this would happen to him.”

DeBono is friends with one of the children who lives there. The 13-year-old and everyone else was able to escape, but Neighbors easily took notice of their pain.

“Thank God nobody died. Everybody got out. Only thing with a little dog on the second floor,” Oscar Alfano said.

Hours later the second floor is still smoldering. Firefighters say they will be here all night on fire watch just in case hot spots start up again.


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