N.J. Firefighter Killed Searching at Apartment Fire

UNION CITY, N.J. -- A firefighter died Saturday after he was overcome while searching a burning apartment building for people erroneously reported to be trapped.

Fire struck the three-story apartment building and a neighboring commercial building just before 6 a.m., said Chief Brion McEldowney of North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue.

Resident Nestor Mendoza, 18, who lived with eight family members in two second-floor apartments, said he was awakened by a fire alarm and he and the building superintendent opened the door to a vacant third-floor apartment, where they encountered dense smoke. He said he awakened his relatives and another family, and they all escaped.

However, North Bergen firefighter Vincent Neglia, 45, heard erroneous reports that people were trapped and rushed to the second floor, where he was overcome, McEldowney said.

Other firefighters found Neglia, and the 23-year veteran was pronounced dead at a hospital, he said.

The fire was under investigation, but McEldowney said it did not appear to be suspicious.

Funeral Information

The wake will be held at Our Lady of Fatima Church on 81st Street and Kennedy Boulevard in North Bergen on Wednesday Sept. 13, from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A shuttle service will be provided from Hudson County Park, with entrances at 79th and 91st Streets off Bergenline Avenue.

The funeral will be held on Thursday Sept. 14,2006 at Our Lady of Fatima Church at 11:00 a.m. We will assemble at the church at 9:30 a.m. with shuttle service available from the Hudson County Park. A repast will be held following the mass at Hudson County Park.