Blaze Destroys N.J. Apartment Building

Nearly 60 residents were left homeless on July 5, after a fire ripped through their apartment building at 485 State St. in Perth Amboy

Perth Amboy firefighters responded around 4:15 a.m. for a reported structure fire confirmed by police on the scene with people trapped on the third floor. Upon arrival, smoke was showing from the three-story ordinary constructed building with people screaming on the rear fire escapes trying to get to safety.

Police officers and firefighters focused on removing occupants from the building and stretching hand lines to a second floor apartment where the fire appeared to be the heaviest.

A suppression crew stretched a hand line to the second floor and found the hallway and an apartment engulfed in flames. The fire was knocked down in the hallway and apartment, but the flames had already advanced above to the third floor and cockloft. The interior crew advanced the hand line to the third floor where they encountered heavy fire throughout. Conditions rapidly deteriorated, forcing the suppression crew to back out and evacuate the building.

All personnel were removed from the building and the strategy was changed to a defensive mode. A deck gun and several elevated master streams were placed in service in the front and rear of the building. Heavy smoke and flames started to appear through the roof and out the front windows as firefighters tried to keep the fire from spreading to the adjoining buildings.

A crew was sent to the roof to perform a trench cut towards the front where the two buildings connected in an attempt to hold the fire in the original building. Smoke could be seen emanating from the eaves of the adjoining buildings, but there was no sign of fire.

The bulk of the fire was darkened around 6:45 a.m. and was declared under control around 7:30 a.m.

Master streams continued to flow throughout the day to extinguish remaining hot spots in hard to reach areas. The roof and upper floors collapsed severely weakening the building. Firefighters were unable to enter to conduct overhaul due to the instability.

The building was declared a total loss and is scheduled to be razed.

Several fire departments from Woodbridge Township and Middlesex County provided assistance at the scene and coverage for the city during the incident.

Several people, including one firefighter suffered injuries and were transported to area hospitals. None of the injuries appeared to be life threatening.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but appears to have started in a second floor apartment.