Massive fire burns through two buildings in Jersey City

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- Firefighters battled a large fire in two buildings in Jersey City Friday afternoon.

Once the fire began in Tony's Auto Shop on John F. Kennedy Boulevard just after 5 p.m., it quickly spread to a two-story building next door.

"I see all this smoke and people running, and so I called my mom to see if it was ours and it was, and I rushed back," said Luz Cabrera, a tenant.

Cabrera, who had just left her apartment to go to a nearby store, quickly got back to see her mother get out safely with the help of neighbors.

"The neighbors knocked on my mom's door real quick telling her to get out," Cabrera said. "She grabbed the dog. She grabbed what she could and she got out."

Jersey City firefighters arrived quickly to find the fire was quickly spreading.

PHOTOS: Large fire in Jersey City store

"The workers heard an acetylene tank ignite. They tried to put it out. Wouldn't go out and they called the fire department," said Chief Steven McGill, Jersey City Fire Department.

The fire then moved into the ground floor of the building, first into the office of the auto shop.

In the front of the building, moments earlier Ihad Abuhaossuna had been working in his deli.

"I didn't hear it. Inside as a deli I have music on and everything so I couldn't hear it," Abuhaossuna said. "So my neighbor warned me and I took my brother and we stepped out, and that's when police came and started moving everybody out."

Abuhaossuna and his father had just opened the deli five months ago. Now there is nothing left.

"What are we going to do. That's life, can't change nothing," he said.

The fire went to four alarms, bringing in a total of 75 firefighters from 18 units. As sun set the blaze was still being fed by a broken gas line.

"It was stubborn because it was gas fed and we couldn't get it out," McGill said. "And it was just going so good we had to evacuate the building."

Eventually, PSE&G crews were able to shut down the line. But the damage had been done, the deli and both apartments were destroyed.

Cabrera just thankful neighbors were able to help her mother.

"Very, very thankful. Because I'm glad for that, because if not I wonder where my mom would be now basically," Cabrera said.
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