Firefighter's aunt dies in Newark fire

June 14, 2013 8:12:26 PM PDT
A fire claimed the life of a beloved member of the Newark community.

On Bellair Place, the grief was overwhelming. Grown men were clinging to each other, a fire chief, inconsolable. Even perfect strangers were in tears.

"You just don't want nobody to lose their life," a neighbor said.

But a 59-year-old woman died at 34 Bellair Friday night, trapped inside by fast moving fire officials say started in the basement.

She lived there with her brother and sister, who'd left to run an errand and returned, to the fire.

Newark City Councilman Luis Quintana lives right down the block.

"I don't know, it's just, the way that family is broken tonight. They went out to the doctors and they came back and they found the fire," Quintana said.

"She said my sister's in there. I said, 'How is she going to get out with all that smoke?' I was out here and I couldn't breathe," said Linda Frade, a neighbor.

The toll was equally hard on members of the Newark Fire Department. The victim is the aunt of a firefighter and several other relatives are also on the job. Even grizzled firemen who've seen it all were not prepared for this.

"Any death is a tragedy and part of our job is to deal with that. It's an extra hard tragedy to deal with when something hits so close to home," said Chief John Centanni, Newark Fire Department.