A fast-moving fire tore through a large two-family residence in Garwood on Nov. 13, leaving the majority of the home destroyed and two families displaced.
The Garwood Fire Department responded to 304 Center St. at 11:56 p.m. for a reported fire in the rear of the home. Upon arrival, the back of the house was engulfed in flames, and quickly spreading to the second floor and roof.
Firefighters stretched several hand lines and attempted an aggressive offensive attack, but were driven back by the intense heat. Conditions started to deteriorate quickly and all personnel were evacuated from the building. Several exterior hand lines and a ladder pipe were set up to operate from a defensive mode.
Exterior hose streams flowed through windows and into the roof of the home until the bulk of the fire was extinguished around 2:00 a.m. The fire was declared under control a short time after. Extensive overhaul was carefully conducted in the heavily damaged home to ensure all hot spots were extinguished.
The home suffered severe damage throughout including a complete roof collapse. All the floors were gutted, leaving nothing but charred remains.
The flames were so intense that a vehicle in the driveway ignited and two neighboring houses suffered significant heat damage. The two neighboring houses were evacuated immediately due to the close proximity and volume of fire on arrival.
All of the residents, including adults, children and several pets were able to escape unharmed after the smoke detectors in their home alerted them of the fire. Assistance is being provided to find shelter for the two families.
There were no reported civilian or firefighter injuries at the scene.
Mutual aid fire departments from Clark, Cranford, Westfield, Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, Kenilworth, Fanwood and Springfield assisted at the scene and covered the town during the incident.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it appears to have started on the rear deck of the first floor. The cause is being ruled as accidental pending further investigation.
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