Story and photos by Peter Danzo
Approximately 80 people were left homeless following a five-alarm fire in Passaic, New Jersey, on May 3, 2015.
At around 21:30 hours, firefighters from the Passaic (NJ Fire Department responded to 37 Columbia Ave for a structure fire. On arrival of Battalion Chief Chris Szczygiel, he requested a third alarm, reporting a large three-story frame occupied multiple dwelling (OMD) heavily involved with fire through the roof as well as a 2 1/2-story frame church also well involved.
Companies attempted an offensive attack but it was quickly abandoned; all members were ordered out of the buildings and a fourth alarm was requested within five minutes of arrival.
Command reported severe exposure problems with two single-story garages in the rear of the fire buildings involved and several homes in the rear severely threatened.
Mutual aid companies were responding from surrounding towns with several engines ordered to bring in additional water. The Passaic Valley Water Dept was requested to boost pressure due to water problems.
A fifth alarm was requested for additional personnel by Chief of Dept Trentacost as a total of two tower ladders, two ladder pipes, one deck gun, numerous handlines, and several ground monitors were put into operation to knock down all visible fire.
The fire was finally declared under control at approximately 01:50 with companies remaining on the scene throughout the night and into the next day. The original fire building, the 2 1/2-story church was destroyed; exposure B, the three-story frame OMD was also destroyed along with the two garages; several 2 and 2 1/2-story frames were damaged. No injuries were reported and the fire is under investigation.
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