Mayday Called at New Jersey Thanksgiving Fire

On Nov. 25 at approximately 1 a.m., the Elizabeth Fire Department responded to a reported fire at 420 Magie Avenue. The building is a three-story wood-frame occupied multiple-dwelling.

Upon arrival, firefighters were faced with heavy fire conditions on the first floor. Several hand lines were stretched in an attempt to stop the fire from spreading to the floors above, but it quickly started to travel the exterior walls.

While crews were battling the blaze on the first floor, two firefighters on the second floor had their means of egress cut off by fire and had to issue a "Mayday". The two firefighters were able to safely escape out a rear second floor window to a ground ladder.

The incident commander had all crews operating inside the building evacuate due to deteriorating conditions. The operation became strictly exterior with two ladder pipes, several hand lines and a deck gun flowing.

Three residents on the upper floors were trapped at one point by heavy smoke and needed to be rescued by firefighters. All the residents escaped either on their own or with the assistance of firefighters and were all accounted for.

The fire eventually traveled up the exterior walls into the cockloft and burned through the roof. A little more than an hour into the incident, the majority of the roof was consumed in fire and collapsed into the third floor. A collapse zone was set up around the building as pieces of the building came crashing down. Heavy fire was showing through the roof and out several windows on the second and third floor with heavy smoke pushing throughout.

Master streams continued to flow for several hours until the fire was finally brought under control at 6:15 a.m. The building was deemed uninhabitable and all six families that lived there needed to be relocated by the Red Cross.

Three firefighters and three residents sustained minor injuries at the scene and were transported to the hospital to be treated.

Several mutual aid fire departments were summoned to the scene to assist including Linden, Kenilworth, Clark, Roselle, Roselle Park and Union. In addition, Union County Mutual Aid Coordinators were on scene to assist with mutual aid departments. Also, several EMS units were on scene providing medical evaluation and rehabilitation for the firefighters.

The fire is being investigated by Union County Fire Officials.