Story and photos by Ron Jeffers
Twenty-three residents were displaced yesterday as a four-alarm fire raced through a row of attached dwellings on Belmont Avenue in Jersey City, New Jersey. One firefighter received an electrical shock and one suffered chest pains at the incident.
The fire was reported after 11: a.m. and 4th Battalion Chief Steve Mc Gill arrived to find heavy fire venting out of the first floor of 27 Belmont, a three-story ordinary structure. A second alarm was transmitted as fire spread up the stairwell, walls, and into the cockloft to 25 and 29 Belmont.
Flames began to vent out of rear top-floor windows and firefighters were sent to the "C" side with ground ladders to remove a victim from a one-story roof. A school teacher from nearby School 12 said she watched a man jump out a third-floor window in the rear to escape the flames. The witness said the civilian hung onto wires and dropped down.
Third and fourth alarms were struck and all line battalion chiefs in the city called to the scene. Truck companies made trench cuts on the roof to stop the spread of fire. A huge column of black smoke rose over the area, attracting news helicopters. At least six dwellings were damaged by the fire.
The roof of the original fire building collapsed, followed by the "D" exposure building. Firefighters later made cuts in walls to relieve trapped water.
According to Fire Director Armando Roman, one firefighter received a shock when he touched an electrical outlet. He was checked out by EMS on the scene and returned to duty. A captain complained of chest pains and was taken to Jersey City Medical Center.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the fire department's investigation unit. Roman said they have confiscated a gasoline can that was found near the front door of 27 Belmont.
Above, firefighters performing trench cuts.
Note the gasoline can on the stoop in the above photo.