45 people left homeless by fire in Perth Amboy, New Jersey

March 30, 2013 12:10:02 PM PDT
45 people have been left homeless after fire raced across a row of townhouses in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

Investigators returning to the scene Saturday said the blaze is not considered suspicious.

But Fire Chief David Volk tells The Star-Ledger of Newark (http://bit.ly/YRVl66) that the cause of the fast-moving fire that broke out around 3:30 p.m. Friday remains under investigation.

Firefighters worked well into the night to try to put out the fire that destroyed five homes.

Three of the rowhomes were fully engulfed when firefighters arrived, and the flames soon spread to two other houses.

Volk said scores of firefighters battled the blaze, but their efforts were hampered because railroad tracks prevented crews from bringing fire trucks to the rear of the buildings.

Instead of getting ready for Easter, families displaced by the fire are now preparing for the next stages of their lives with lost memories and possessions.

Newscopter 7 was above the scene as flames ripped through five houses and climbed toward the sky.

"It started in the middle and had the potential to burn both ways. It could have taken out more than a dozen units. We were able to stop it with five," said Chief Volk.

It's not clear what started the fire, but what is evident is how many people will be moving into a motel this holiday weekend, 45 in all.

Pedro Cruz is one of them.

He lost everything.

"I was living there 21 years. The whole life of my daughter and my son," Cruz said.

Two decades of memories went up in smoke.

Cruz says he has to move forward.

This is what he's been telling his wife: "We have to start again. We have to start again," Cruz said.

"We ran out, but I had to come back inside to save my two dogs. I couldn't leave them in the house for them to get burned," said Jaileen Rivera, a resident.

12-year-old Jaileen Rivera says she darted back into her home to get her 6-week-old puppy.

Rivera's house was badly damaged in the fire.

"It's very hard because my mom, she works so hard in the hospital 12 hours a day, night shift, I don't get to see her. It's very hard to see all of the stuff she worked so hard for gone, Rivera said.

No one was hurt in the fire, and three dogs reported missing were later found safe and reunited with their owners.

The mayor told Eyewitness News that her office will be soliciting donations for the fire victims.

The American Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents.