Jersey City, NJ – An Easter morning fire that destroyed ten homes, displaced more than 50 residents and injured five firefighters is being called one of the most devastating fires in recent Jersey City history.
On Sunday April 8, at 4:23 a.m. Jersey City firefighters responded to a reported fire at 349 Claremont Ave., which is the second unit in of a 10 unit row house. Upon arrival, heavy fire conditions were found on the first floor and venting out the rear of the building.
Emergency personnel frantically went to every unit banging on doors to get everyone out of the building. All occupants were safely evacuated from the building and temporarily given shelter at the Board of Education building across the street from the incident.
An aggressive interior attack was made and the bulk of the fire was knocked down quickly, but heavy fire conditions remained in the basement. Interior conditions deteriorated rapidly and forced all firefighters to evacuate the building and set up for a defensive attack.
Fire started to travel the rear wall of the old wood-frame building and entered the common cockloft. Several truck companies accessed the roof to make a trench cut in an attempt to cut off the fire before it consumed the entire block. The trench cut was made, but the fire had already passed them and continued to travel the entire length of the cockloft.
Heavy smoke and fire started to vent from the trench cut and the roof trapping the truck companies near the edge of the roof. A “MAYDAY” was transmitted by the firefighters and ground ladders were set up around the building, so they could get off the roof that was starting to weaken. Aerial devices weren’t able to be utilized due to overhead wires in front of the building. All firefighters were removed safely from the roof.
Several deck guns and ground monitors were set up as flames started to consume the entire roof and drop down to the floors below. Heavy fire could be seen venting through the roof and out the front windows of several units. A partial collapse took place in the rear of several units as heavy fire consumed the exterior walls.
All outside master streams continued to flow for a couple hours until most of the fire was darkened. Firefighters were able to re-enter most of the units with caution and extinguish remaining fire.
Over 100 firefighters battled the blaze that was declared under control at approximately 7:30 a.m.
Five firefighters suffered non-life threatening injuries and were transported to Jersey City Medical Center.
The Red Cross was on scene to assist the displaced residents with shelter and clothing.
Every company from Jersey City responded to the scene along with companies from Newark.
Companies from North Hudson, Hoboken, Bayonne, Kearney, East Newark, Bloomfield, Belleville, Orange, and Nutley covered the city during the incident.
The cause of the fire is being investigated, but it appears to have started in the Basement of unit 349.