Photo and story by Ron Jeffers
Shortly after 9 a.m. on February 18, the North Hudson Regional (NJ) Fire Department’s communications center dispatched a full-assignment to a reported “working fire” on Hackensack Plank Road in Weehawken. Companies arrived to find flames venting out five windows on the “A” side of a two-story, wood-frame occupied dwelling which was attached to a similar structure on the “B” side and a large commercial building on the “D” side. A second-alarm was transmitted immediately, quickly followed by a third-alarm upon the arrival of Deputy Chief Dave Curtis.
A police officer was treated for smoke inhalation after he rushed into the buildings to evacuate tenants before the arrival of the fire department. Residents escaped into the snow covered street with the clothes on their backs.
The fire building has a 50-foot addition in the rear which firefighters fought to prevent extension. After cutting holes on the roof of the fire building, and forced to get off due to the thick smoke, members of Ladder Co.’s 1 and 4 were determined not the let fire extend into the adjacent Exposure “B” wood-frame. They cut numerous holes and requested a 2 1/2-inch hand-line to the roof. The line, and later an addition line, were raised to the roof where the stop was made. This exposure sustained heavy water and smoke damage, according to Chief of Department Frank Montagne.
Fourth and fifth alarms were struck as the stubborn flames dominated the front-end of the fire building. Mutual aid companies from Hoboken and Jersey City were part of these alarms. Exterior streams and a ladder pipe were used on the fire building as exposures were covered by members. The fire building later experienced a partial interior collapse. The huge column of smoke could be seen in Manhattan and the Meadowlands.
Engine companies dropped LDH across the North and South Marginal Highways in adjacent Union City for a water supply on a different main. These roads are parallel with the underground Interstate 495 that leads into and out of the Lincoln Tunnel, creating a traffic nightmare.
It took six-hours before the fire was declared under control. A total of 11 people were displaced, according to the Red Cross. This fire occurred within two days of another multiple-alarm blaze that was located on Maple Street directly behind the February 18 fire.
See more photos from this fire HERE.
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