Crews Battle Five-Alarm Kearny (NJ) Fire

Photos and info by Ron Jeffers

Fire tore through three Elm Street dwellings on July 18, 2021, in Kearny, New Jersey. The two-and-a-half-story, wood-frame structures are all separated by narrow alleyways in this neighborhood. 

Around 9 a.m., fire units responded to the alarm and found fire involving one of the homes, which quickly spread to two others.  Mutual aid was called in to assist local firefighters tackle the stubborn fire, which was extending up walls and into the attic areas. 

As conditions began to deteriorate, firefighters were ordered out of the original fire building and an exterior attack began. Heavy smoke covered the street and flames would break out from time to time.

With the temperature in the 80s and a 73-percent humidity reading, firefighters took a beating and had to rotate firefighting operations, and then take a rehab break to shed their heavy turnout gear and grab a bottle of water. This also caused additional manpower to be called in for a total of five alarms.

Mutual aid fire companies came from Harrison, North Arlington, Jersey City, North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue, Belleville, Bayonne, and Hoboken. Addition aid from Newark, Secaucus, and East Newark covered the town for any other emergency calls.

The Jersey City Office of Emergency Management sent its rehabilitation bus to the scene and the Jersey City Gong Club canteen truck was also present to supply exhausted firefighters with bottled water, wet cloths, and other supplies.  

It was reported that one resident was taken to the burn center at St. Barnabas Medical Center, in Livingston. About nine residents were displaced and three pets perished in the fire. A representative from the Red Cross was on hand to assist the occupants. It was also reported that one Kearny firefighter and one Jersey City fire officer were taken to the hospital and treated for nonlife-threatening injuries.

Firefighters had the fire under control shortly after noon. Investigators from Kearny and the New Jersey Fire Marshal’s Office were on hand to conduct an investigation into the cause of the fire.


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