Fire tears through Union City apartment building

December 3, 2012 8:12:28 PM PST
A large fire burned most of the day in an apartment building in Union City, New Jersey.

The third alarm fire took place at 411 Bergenline Avenue.

The fire started at 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Three weeks before Christmas more than 100 people, including children, are now without a home.

The cause of the raging fire that changed so many lives in Union City is still under investigation.

The battle took place more than 40 feet in the air and for most of Monday afternoon and evening it looked as if the mighty fire was winning.

Newscopter 7 captured water cannons blasting flames that were ripping through the Union City apartment building.

It took hours before firefighters got it under control.

"Fire got to a very advanced stage early in the day, so we're trying to figure out what happened here," said Chief Frank Montagne, North Hudson Fire Department.

"We went into the building with fire extinguishers getting everybody out of the building because there are a lot of old folks that live there," said Angel Bravo, a business owner.

Angel Bravo runs the barber shop on the first floor and says he tried to warn people living upstairs as soon as he smelled smoke.

Everyone got out and no one was hurt, but city officials say more than 100 people have been left homeless.

"My daughter came running to me and said mommy, mommy the house is on fire," said Theresa Marino, a fire victim.

Theresa Marino is one of many who will be spending the next several nights in the gymnasium.

The Red Cross is setting up cots and will be helping the families left homeless, including the dozens and dozens of children seen playing in the gym, looking for normalcy amidst chaos.

"They'll have to find us a place to live. We don't have a place to go," Marino said.

The Union City Mayor's Office is collecting donations for the displaced fire victims. To help please contact:

Mayor's Office
City Hall
3715 Palisade Ave
Union City, NJ

The Union City Building Department said there were 23 apartments in the building. It's a four story building at the intersection of Bergenline Avenue and 5th Street.

The building has two stores on the ground floor, a supermarket and a hair salon.

The building was built in 1928 and is owned by 5th Street Bergenline LLC, with the same address. Building is 18,000 square feet.

Three other neighboring buildings were evacuated as a precaution.

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