Cover Story: Firefighters Bail Out to Safety At New Jersey House Fire

WOODBRIDGE, NJ, AUG. 14, 2013 – Two Woodbridge firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling a basement fire that heavily damaged a home, displacing an elderly couple.

Woodbridge firefighters were dispatched for a reported mid-morning basement fire. Captain Jeff Moran reported smoke showing from the basement of a one-story, ranch-style home. EMS was requested immediately to the scene for a reported injured occupant.

Engine 1-10 established a water supply and a hand-line was stretched through a rear door to the top of the basement stairs, where firefighters encountered heavy smoke and heat. The crew attempted to descend the stairs, but stumbled on the steep steps. A “Mayday” was transmitted after two firefighters who were at the top of the stairs became disoriented. One firefighter’s facemask became temporarily dislodged while he was trying to exit the house.

A second alarm was transmitted along with a request for additional ambulance and paramedic units. Both firefighters found their way to windows in a first-floor bedroom after seeing daylight shining through them. Two windows were smashed out and the firefighters exited head-first to safety. One firefighter dropped to the ground from a rear window, then a ladder was placed outside a side window for the second firefighter to slide down. The “Mayday” was resolved within three minutes of the initial transmission. The two injured firefighters were attended to by EMS personnel on the scene, then transported to JFK Medical Center in Edison, where they were treated and released.

An additional handline was stretched to the rear of the house where the bulk of the fire was extinguished through basement windows. Once the fire was darkened, crews gained access to the basement through the garage to extinguish remaining hot spots and conduct overhaul.

Mutual aid fire departments from Avenel, Colonia, Fords and Hopelawn responded to the scene to assist, while additional Woodbridge Township fire departments and Perth Amboy covered the town. The Woodbridge Township and Avenel-Colonia First-Aid Squads were on scene to provide rehabilitation and medical attention to the two firefighters. The cause of the fire was determined to be careless smoking in the basement. n