Bayonne (NJ) Fire Chief Describes Experience of 5-Alarm Fire

Bayonne fire chief Greg Rogers said the endurance of dozens of firefighters from eight municipalities was tested in an “exhausting” battle against a massive fire in Bayonne on Tuesday, reports

The five-alarm fire, which broke out at around 4:30 p.m., ripped through two attached three-story buildings at 743 and 745 Broadway, leaving them severely damaged and causing moderate damage to another attached building at 747.

When firefighters arrived at the scene, they saw heavy fire between 743 and 745, Rogers said.

As they extended water hoses into the buildings and searched for possible victims, conditions rapidly deteriorated, with the fire spreading through an air shaft between the buildings and igniting the undersides of their roofs, he said.

The freezing weather didn’t help, causing many firefighters to slip on black ice, though no fire hydrants were frozen.

Gusts of wind fanned the flames, and threatened to spread the fire to other attached buildings, Rogers said. As the fire intensified, firefighters were forced out of the buildings and started using elevated water-tower trucks.

After numerous crews surrounded the buildings with exterior fire hoses, the tide began to turn, and firefighters stopped the fire from spreading much further. The roof of 747 Broadway, however, did suffer some fire damage.

“The occupants escaped the buildings unharmed, and there were no reported firefighter injuries despite the exhausting battle and icy conditions,” Rogers said, adding that a dog was also rescued.

At 8 p.m., the fire was declared under control. Firefighters stayed at the scene through the night to monitor the buildings for any potential flare-ups.

“Despite gusty winds, icy conditions, and numerous attached wooden buildings the firefighters did an extraordinary job of keeping this massive fire confined to the two buildings that were involved when they arrived. I commend them all,” Rogers said.

The fire chief said a total of 36 people have been displaced for the long-term: 19 people from four apartments at 741-743 Broadway; seven people from two apartments at 745; and 10 people from two apartments at 747.

The building at 745 Broadway, which had a 36-year-old antique clock store on its first floor, will be demolished because it is in danger of collapsing, according to Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis.

The people displaced by the blaze sought immediate shelter at the City Ice Rink at Bayonne High School, Rogers said. Red Cross and the Office of Emergency Management were working to assist with further sheltering efforts.

Firefighters from Jersey City, North Hudson, Kearny, Hoboken, West Orange, Montclair and Bloomfield joined Bayonne firefighters in battling the fire. Bayonne police, EMS, the city Fire Canteen, city Building Department and city Health Department were also at the scene, the fire chief said.

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