Crews Battle Major Fire in Hackensack (NJ) Commercial Building

Fire in downtown Hackensack

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Article and photos by Ron Jeffers

A mattress and furniture store in Hackensack (NJ) business district was destroyed by heavy fire on the morning of October 24, 2018, as firefighters from surrounding communities battled the blaze along with city firefighters.

Around 10:40 a.m. a full assignment was dispatched to to the older ordinary constructed building, two blocks away from fire headquarters.  Deputy Chief Steve Kalman observed a smoke condition while leaving quarters. As Ladder Co.1 rounded the corner, Firefighter Mike Greco said the low-banking smoke made it difficult to see the street or the fire building.

The three-story structure housed the Buy & Save Furniture store, possessing a heavy fire load of furniture and mattresses in the basement and ground floor. The two upper floors were vacant.

According to officials, the basement sprinklers did not activate during the fire. They were the only sprinklers in the building.  Firefighters said that, in the past, the building was used as a theater and dance hall.

Two employees were evacuated and firefighters stretched hand lines into the building, where they encountered heavy fire. Deputy Chief Kalman struck a second-alarm. As conditions worsened, a third alarm was transmitted and two FAST teams established. Later, members were ordered out of the structure.

A fourth alarm was sounded and master streams set up. Ladder’s 1 and 3 had ladder pipes in the front and a ladder pipe from Englewood Ladder 2 and Paramus Ladder 4’s tower operated in a rear lot. Numerous water supplies were established by local and mutual aid pumper.

After the fourth alarm, Deputy Chief Kalman notified communication to make the fire a “general alarm,” which is a recall to duty of all off duty fire officers and firefighters.

Strong winds were also a factor to hamper firefighting efforts. Flames broke through the roof, as low banking, and blinding, smoke continue to cover Main Street. Eventually the third and second floor’s collapsed , causing damage to the delta exposure, a two-story adjacent structure with stores on the ground floor.

Additional mutual aid came from Teaneck, Ridgefield Park, Maywood, and Bergenfield.

Deputy Chief Kalman reported the fire to be “probably will hold” at 1:33 p.m.

Chief Freeman said the winds were a “huge challenge for firefighters.”  He continued, “We were successful in containing the fire to the building of origin.”

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