N.J. Fire Guts Apartment Building

In New Jersey, several families have lost everthing they own in a fire that gutted their apartment building.

The blaze broke out around noon in Newark. Eyewitness News reporter Jeff Pegues is live with more.

It's amazing how fast life can change--and it changed in an instant for about eight families here today. First there was a fire, and now, because of that fire, their homes will be demolished.

It's all gone now; most of what these residents owned has been reduced to charred rubble.

Alva Cruz, victim's relative: "He had everything in there, you know--his house, his furniture I guess; it's heartbreaking."

The fire started about midday. Firefighters say it started in a club. People working in the basement of the club smelled the smoke. The fire spread, and firefighters moved in.

Chief Joe DeMasi, Newark Fire Department: "The alarm came in at 12:00, when I got on the scene I saw heavy fire conditions."

The flames engulfed the top floors of the two buildings; there were four apartments. Juan Cruz's father and mother were in one of them--his 48-year-old father was injured getting out.

uan Cruz, victim's relative: "He was in the back when the fire started."

His father suffered minor injuries. The fire is under investigation; the arson squad is involved, but we are told by the fire chief that that's just routine, for a fire of this size.