PASSAIC, New Jersey (WABC) -- A fourth-alarm fire that burned through a building in Passaic left more than 65 residents temporarily homeless.
The fire broke out near the first-floor courtyard of a building on Hamilton Avenue just before 2 a.m. Friday.
Residents and family members acted quickly to get out of the building.
"My wife woke up because she smelled the smoke," resident Solomon Gasper said in Spanish. "When I went to the kitchen to open the window, that's when it exploded."
The fire spread through the three-story structure, forcing the evacuation of more than 65 residents to Passaic City Hall.
"He went to grab my mom, and my sister they started running out of the house," daughter Janet Gasper said. "That's when they heard the other windows explode from the heat. They turned around to see and they couldn't see anymore, everything was fire, like in the kitchen walls and smoke and everything. They grabbed whatever they could and just got out."
Firefighters were able to contain the flames to the one building as they battled persistent flames into the morning.
No injuries were reported. But the building was structurally compromised.
"This fire appears to have begun on the lower levels, and as you can see, reached all the way to the top level," Passaic Mayor Hector Lora said. "The building is completely compromised, so there will be no access for families,"
The fire happened across from School No 6. The school opened Friday, but students had to walk in rather than be dropped off because the street was closed for firefighting activity.
"The entire area is blocked off," Lora said. "We will make every accommodation to make sure kids get to school. The children that are impacted by the fire, that's more of a challenge. They don't have their uniforms, they don't have their book bags."
The Red Cross said it is assisting 66 people and expects that number to climb.
"We've had over 65 individuals that were evacuated from the building, thank god we have not had a single loss of life, " mayor Lora said.
Shelters have been opened for the families at P.S. 23., located at 79 Dayton Avenue in Passaic.
Submit a News Tip