Several people were left homeless, but escaped unharmed after an early-morning fire tore through a two- family home in Garwood on Feb. 23.
The Garwood Fire Department was dispatched just before 4:00 a.m. to 255 Second Ave. for a reported structure fire.
When firefighters arrived, heavy fire was showing from the first floor windows on the A/D corner of a two-story dwelling. The chief on scene quickly transmitted a second alarm, bringing in mutual aid departments.
A water supply was established and a handline was advanced through the front door where firefighters encountered heavy fire that was quickly spreading up the exterior of the house to the second floor and roof.
The fire on the first floor was able to be knocked down, but heavy fire conditions became evident on the second floor. Additional handlines were stretched to the second floor to attempt an aggressive attack and extinguish the fast moving fire, but the roof quickly became involved. The interior crew continued to battle the blaze from the second floor, but was withdrawn from the structure when the roof became consumed in flames and started to collapse.
Master streams were set up, including two 2 1/2-inch handlines and a ladder pipe from Cranford as operations were switched to a defensive mode. Exterior streams flowed for approximately 25 minutes until the bulk of the fire was knocked down. Firefighters were then able to resume interior operations with hand lines to extinguish remaining hot spots.
The blaze took approximately two hours to bring under control, but firefighters remained on scene well after that conducting extensive overhaul and wrapping up equipment.
The home sustained significant damage, including a total roof collapse and was deemed uninhabitable. The two families are being assisted with temporary shelter and clothing.
Multiple mutual aid fire departments from Union County responded to the scene to assist and cover the town during the incident.
The cause of the fire is being investigated, but it appears to have started in the first floor apartment.