The Raritan Fire Department discovered flames coming from the second story of a three-family house at 1930 hours on March 8. Units responded within a minute or two from the firehouse, located one block away.
Upon arrival, there was heavy fire on the second floor. Heavy smoke was coming from the entire length of the eaves; and bright flashes were arcing from the electrical service.
A hose crew made the second floor but was unable to reach the fire due to intense heat and interior alterations that prohibited access. Another crew reached the basement utilities and turned them off.
Due to the rapidly intensifying and deteriorating conditions and the lack of progress, the evacuation order was given and air horns sounded. All personnel were accounted for.
With the assistance of four mutual aid companies, the RFD was able to confine the fire to the building of origin and prevent extension to the dwelling 15 feet away.
Sub-freezing temperatures made operations more difficult. The fire was under control by 2100 hours, and fully extinguished by 2400 hours. Since the roof had collapsed and three of the four exterior walls partially collapsed, overhaul was conducted using a backhoe.