Fireworks may have sparked house fire in Elizabeth, NJ, officials say

ELIZABETH, New Jersey (WABC) -- Firefighters battled an early morning fire at a large home in Union County, New Jersey that left at least 25 residents homeless.

The blaze broke out around 4 a.m. Wednesday at a home in the 100 block of Westfield Avenue in Elizabeth.

The fire spread quickly through the three-story rooming house.

A third alarm was struck before crews brought the situation under control.

No serious injuries were reported.

Residents told Eyewitness News about 15 families live in the building. All have been forced to seek alternate shelter.

Fire officials confirmed preliminary reports that fireworks being shot off outside may have ignited the blaze.

People who fled the Victorian home also believe the popping noise they heard was the sound of fireworks exploding in an apartment on the third flood. In fact, they say quick bursts of flames seen coming out of a window could have been pyrotechnics going off.

"Thank God I was awake," victim Daniel Gallagher said. "I heard all of the, whatever was going on, the blast that was going on in the back. It was like someone was blowing off fireworks."

Despite several reports of fireworks, investigators are still working to pinpoint the cause.

"If it was indeed fireworks, where was the individual playing with fireworks. was it outside, did the fire spread outside in, we don't know," said Elizabeth Fire Department Chief Thomas McNamara. "It's still early in the investigation for us to pinpoint the cause but that is one direction we are looking at, that it might have been fireworks."

No matter what the cause, 25 people have lost everything they owned on a day that typically brings a fresh start.

"I'm pretty devastated," Gallagher said. "This is not what I wanted to start my New Year's with."

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