Resident charged in Newark fire

May 3, 2009 8:30:28 PM PDT
Almost ten hours after the fire started, firefighters were still putting out the hotspots. At least 29 people are homeless after a fierce blaze gutted their building. Police in Newark say it was no accident.

"She put a lot of lives in danger, that's all I can say," Carmen Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez had tears in her eyes as she looked at what remains of her home.

The six-story building at 2 West Kinney Street was destroyed Sunday afternoon by a raging fire that investigators believe was intentionally set.

"Everything I worked for just went down the drain. This is the second time I've been in a fire and lost everything," Gonzalez said.

Residents say they knew right away who was responsible for the fast-moving blaze. Deborah White, 54, is under arrest for suspected arson, after her fifth floor apartment caught fire just after 1:00 p.m. Eyewitnesses say she'd been fighting with her boyfriend.

"She said she was going to burn the building down. Everyone heard it," Linda Williams said.

Dozens of people ran for their lives as the smoke and flames intensified, including Rosalie McRae, who had lived here at the former Hotel Belmont for 18 years.

"I looked down and I looked up, so I started banging on everyone's door so they can get out of the building," McRae said.

One-hundred-twenty firefighters from eight towns responded to battle the blaze. After helping some people down the stairs, they fought the ferocious fire from outside because the flames were just too intense.

Two firefighters and two residents went to local hospitals with minor injuries.

Most displaced residents were staying with family. The Red Cross helped others stay in local hotels.


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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