Mayday Called at N.J. Blaze, Firefighter Rescue

A firefighter was rescued by a rapid intervention team as a three-alarm fire tore through a multiple-dwelling in Perth Amboy on March 26. The fire spread to a second home and displaced 16 residents. 

The Perth Amboy Fire Department responded at 3:07 a.m. to 365 Grove St. for a reported fire. Upon arrival, companies found heavy smoke showing from a two-story, ordinary constructed four-family home.

Heavy fire conditions were found in the basement, but firefighters had difficulty accessing the windowless basement and getting water on the fire. Flames started to show through the floor and up the wall on the A-side of the building and appeared to be gas fed, forcing firefighters to knock down the fire with handlines from the exterior. Firefighters continued to search for a way to gain access to the basement to darken the fire, but were unsuccessful due to the conditions.

Just about an hour into the incident, a firefighter on the second floor called a "Mayday" as conditions deteriorated rapidly resulting in zero visibility and high heat. The rapid intervention team was put to work and was able to get the trapped firefighter out the second floor window via ground ladder. The rescued firefighter was treated on the scene by EMS and later flown to St. Barnabas Burn Center in Livingston to be treated for possible burns and smoke inhalation.

The intense flames eventually traveled up through void spaces and consumed the entire building, sending heavy smoke and fire through the roof, causing it to collapse. Several master streams were set up including two ladder pipes to douse the flames from the exterior. Efforts were also made to save a neighboring home from burning that sat just a few feet away from the fire building.

The blaze took over four hours to bring under control. The original fire building was deemed a total loss, while the neighboring home suffered some fire, smoke and water damage.

All of the residents were able to escape unharmed. Two of the firefighters suffered minor injuries and were transported to a local hospital where they were treated and released.

Mutual aid fire departments from South Amboy and Sayreville responded to the scene to assist, while other departments covered the city during the incident. Several EMS units were on scene to provide rehabilitation and medical monitoring. Middlesex County Mutual Aid Coordinators were summoned to the scene to handle mutual aid assignments.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by Perth Amboy fire officials, but it appears to have started in the basement.

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