Fire Escape Steps Snap at Jersey City (NJ) Fire

The steps on a rusted fire escape gave way beneath the feet of residents fleeing a two-alarm fire in a four-story apartment this morning in the Greenville section of the city, reports

“I fell right through the stairs,” said J.R. Williams, who lives on the third floor of the building at Bayside Park Drive and Bayside Terrace and fell one story through the fire escape steps.

“I didn’t know what to think. I was just trying to get out,” Williams said when asked whether he thought he would fall three stories to the ground.

Like others who used that fire escape during the fire, which began around 5:20 a.m., Williams said he had to break down an access door because the sliding bolts locking it had been painted over several times and appeared to be locked in place. Williams suffered scrapes and bruises in the fall.

“Every step I took, the step collapsed,” Anthony Floyd said of his escape from the building. “I was falling and sliding. Me and my wife are lucky to be alive.”

Speaking of the fire escape, Severo K. Gerena said: “I’ve been here a year and I’ve seen maybe two inspections and this should not have passed.”

However, the building was last inspected in 2012 and was on the rotation for future inspection, Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said. 

A message left with the building’s management company was not immediately returned. 

Juan Cid, who lives with his wife Elise Belicaire and their 3-year-old daughter in a first floor apartment, said the the fire started in his kitchen.

“She woke me up and said, ‘Honey, something smells of smoke,'” Cid said. “I opened the bedroom door and I saw smoke along the ceiling. I put my head inside the kitchen and everything was on fire. It was coming from between the stove and the wall … I said, ‘Honey, take the baby, the kitchen is on fire.'”

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