Occupants Rescued from Cliffside Park (NJ) Fire

Photo and story by Ron Jeffers

Several occupants of a 2 1/2-story wood-frame dwelling were rescued as thick smoke and flames raced through their dwelling on August 11. Cliffside Park (NJ) firefighters were toned out at 6:45 a.m. for a reported working fire and a possible entrapment in the attic at 56 Lafayette Avenue.

A man picking up his boss to go to work saw the smoke and dialed 911.  He and another man went to assist two residents out of the structure. First arr-iving Police Officers Nick Franolic, Scott Young, and Yakup Zoklu observed three residents outside in the street and three on a one-story roof extension. Neighbors grabbed a ladder for the officers to use while they climbed another ladder already up against the building. A couple sleeping in the attic heard a woman screaming from downstairs. The couple could not make it through the interior and went to the widows for help. The three trapped victims were rescued as a heavy column of smoke rose above the structure, visible in New York City and attracting the morning news helicopters.

Deputy Fire Chief Ted Tarrabokija arrived and immediately transmitted a second-alarm, which brought in mutual aid units from Fairview, Ridgefield and Edgewater. An interior attack began, but as conditions worsened, and, as fire began to vent out windows and the roof, all members were ordered out. A defensive attack included master streams from Engine 3’s squirt apparatus and a Fairview ladder pipe.  

The stubborn fire took more than two hours to control as firefighters passed bottles of water to each other on this humid morning. EMS personnel set up a rehab area across the street utilizing units from Cliffside Park, Fort Lee, North Bergen and Englewood Hospital.  

The preliminary examination of the structure showed the possible origin of the fire as a candle, according to Police Chief Rich Gaito.

View additional photos from this fire HERE.

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