The Clifton, N.J. fire department responded to a report of live wires and a car on fire on the evening of March 20, 2003. The first arriving unit, Engine 3, reported that they had live wires down which had ignited a car and a commercial building. The address of the building was 560 Lexington Avenue at the corner of East Clifton Avenue. Time of the call was 22:00 Hours on this rainy night.
The live wire had energized the commercial building and started fires in the walls and roof area. The fire took off and eventually about 2 hours later, half of the building which contained 4 businesses was fully involved with fire out the windows and through the roof. The businesses contained in the building were a homemade pierogie store, furniture store, mattress warehouse and liquor store. The fire building was a 1 story brick / masonry construction approximately 1 block long.
As the one side of the building burned, the other side which housed the mattress warehouse and liquor store were becoming fully involved. Due to the size of the building and amount of fire, mutual aid was called from Paterson, Garfield and Elmwood Park. Clifton Engine 4 fed Paterson Truck 2's ladder pipe and Garfield Engine 5 stretched L.D.H. to supply Elmwood Park Truck 4's tower ladder and other handlines. An exterior attack was needed to contain this fire using 12 pieces of apparatus manned by approximately 50 firefighters. Two Tower ladders, 2 ladder pipes, 2 deck guns, 1 ground monitor and numerous handlines were utilized.
Numerous other Passaic, Bergen and Essex County Fire Companies were called to relocate to empty Clifton Firehouses for most of the night. There were no reports of injuries to civilians or firefighters. Some fire and water damage was sustained to one exposure dwelling which was a 2 1/2 story wood frame.
The fire is under investigation. The entire building was totally gutted and the roof had collapsed. The fire was finally brought under control at 05:00 Hours on Friday morning. Units were on the scene wetting down the remains of the structure until Friday afternoon on March 21, 2003.