5-alarm fire tears through building in Weehawken

Sandra Bookman has the latest from Weehawken, NJ.
February 18, 2014 12:05:55 PM PST
Firefighters battled a raging, five-alarm fire that gutted a building on Hackensack Road in Weekhawken Tuesday morning.

Fire officials with the North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue say the call came in at 9:09 a.m.


The flames were burning through a two-story wood-frame building, with the fire either starting on the first floor or outside.

It then went up the vinyl siding into the cockloft, where it quickly spread.

Residents living in four or five apartments on the two floors heard the alarm and got out.

Nicola Blount had just walked outside on her way to work when she spotted the smoke and flames coming from the building.

"We heard the alarm, and we were just going to ignore it like most people do, just someone cooking," she said. "And I walked outside and there were flames coming out of the bottom of the apartment."

Her husband, Frank de las Mercedes, is an artist who lost most of his pieces in the fire.

"My life's work is in there, but I'm just happy that we're fine," he said. "That's all that matters right now."

The building next door was also evacuated as a precaution. There was no fire damage to it, but some water and roof damage from firefighters.

One police officer was treated at scene for smoke inhalation after he apparently went into building to check if anyone else was inside as firefighters were arriving.

He is expected to be okay, and no other injuries were reported.

Red Cross officials on the scene say they are helping 5 displaced families, 11 people in all.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.