New Jersey High-Rise Fire Kills One, Injures Five

FORT LEE, N.J. (AP) -- One person was killed and five others injured when fire broke out on an upper floor of a high-rise building Wednesday morning.

The fire was contained to a single apartment on the 26th floor of the 30-story Plaza Co-op, which overlooks the Hudson River across from Manhattan.

One of two elderly women in the apartment that caught fire died, authorities said.

Fort Lee Fire Chief Corey Parker said the first alarm was sounded at 11:45 a.m. and the fire burned out of control for about 30 minutes.

Firefighters from nine neighboring communities were called to battle the blaze, which took more than 150 firefighters to bring under control.

Parker said when the first firefighters arrived at the scene, heavy smoke was pouring from a window on the 26th floor.

''Our biggest challenge was getting the smoke out of the building,'' he said. ''Each apartment is self contained and holds the heat. It's like being in an oven.''

Parker said firefighters hadn't determined what caused the fire or where in the apartment it had begun.

Fort Lee Mayor Jack Alter, who lives in the building, said the 172-unit high-rise was built 32 years ago with fire safety in mind.

''The building itself doesn't burn,'' he said. ''This is a concrete and steel building. It's the contents that burn.''

Firefighters found one of the elderly women inside the apartment and the other in the hallway; it was not immediately clear which of the women died. The woman who died went into cardiac arrest on the way to Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck. The woman who survived was believed to have also gone into cardiac arrest, Parker said.

One other resident was injured. Three firefighters also suffered from heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. Names of the victims were not immediately released.

Parker said all the other occupants of the high rise were able to escape on their own.

Although the fire was contained to the apartment where it broke out, water from firemen's hoses seeped onto lower floors, causing electrical problems, the mayor said.

Building and electrical inspectors were testing wiring in individual units to see if they would remain habitable. If problems are found in several units, the electricity may have to be shut of to at least half the building and force residents from their homes, Alter said.

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