N.J. Five Alarmer Spreads to Adjacent Building

Five alarms were needed to bring a March 9 fire under control that spread from one building to another, leaving several residents homeless and three firefighters with non-life threatening injuries in Elizabeth.

Firefighters responded around 7:30 p.m. to 58 Third St. for a reported structure fire. Heavy fire was showing on arrival from the second floor and attic of a 2 1/2-story wood-frame, mixed occupancy and threatening a three-story wood frame apartment building in close proximity on the B-side.

Hand lines were stretched inside to the second floor where firefighters encountered heavy fire conditions. The fire was knocked down quickly on the second floor and an additional hand line was advanced to the attic to extinguish the fire that extended from the second floor. All visible fire was knocked down in the original fire building within 20 minutes, but heavy fire extension in the exposure building was being reported on the third floor.

A second and third alarm was transmitted for heavy fire conditions present in the cockloft of the exposure building. Several crews advanced hand lines to the third floor and roof in an attempt to prevent the fire from spreading the entire length of the building. A fourth alarm was transmitted and master stream operations were prepared as conditions started to deteriorate in the cockloft and fire started to show through the roof.

A trench cut was made in the roof and skylights were vented while interior crews vigorously pulled ceiling on the third floor to cut the fire off. Once the roof was vented and ceilings were pulled, hand lines were in place to extinguish the fire before it advanced any further. The fire was able to be held in check and was darkened shortly after.

A fifth alarm was transmitted to provide fresh companies to relieve crews that were operating inside and running low on air.

Both buildings suffered significant damage, which forced many residents to seek temporary housing. The fire was declared under control around 9:45 p.m.

Mutual aid fire departments from several surrounding Union County towns responded to assist at the scene and cover the city during the incident.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by Elizabeth fire officials.