A fierce fire raced through a Grant Avenue wood-frame duplex that extended into the East Newark (NJ) municipal Department of Public Works garage on the evening of July 28th, displacing several families.
This, the smallest municipality in Hudson County, is only a few blocks long located between Kearny and Harrison and it is on the east side of the Passaic River from the city of Newark. Shortly before 11 p.m., the borough’s volunteer firefighters were dispatched to a fire on Grant Avenue. They turned out with their two engines and one truck to find fire involving a two-story occupied duplex with flames impinging on the DPW building on the B side.
As water supplies were established, Chief Kenneth Grahin called in mutual aid to the scene. The immediate response came from the career Harrison and Kearny Fire Departments, which sent an engine and truck each.
Flames quickly spread to the DPW building on this narrow street with buildings that are separated by small alleyways. Apparatus were in front of the fire buildings, making it impossible to remove vehicles from inside the garage. As East Newark units set up on Grant Avenue, Harrison Ladder 1 was sent to a rear lot and placed their ladder pipe into operation. The roof of the DPW garage was now involved. East Newark set up a ladder pipe on this structure and Engine 1 placed a deck gun into operation. Kearny Ladder 2’s tower was also used north of the East Newark truck.
During a search of the duplex, firefighters located a pet dog which they removed; crews teamed up with EMTs to give the canine oxygen. It was then removed to an emergency veterinarian office in Lyndhurst.
Heavy, acrid low-banking smoke covered the fire scene and the command post, sometimes blocking out vision except for emergency lights. To make things worse, power was cut off, sending the neighborhood into darkness. This included police and fire headquarters, where and engine and tower were stranding by from Secaucus. Residents took to the streets in the dark to see what was happening.
Additional mutual aid that was called to the scene came from North Arlington, Lyndhurst, and Jersey City. In addition, the Harrison Fire Department recalled off-duty members. Large diameter hose (LDH) covered the streets to improve the water supply going to master streams, with some LDH lines extending for several blocks to fire hydrants on different water mains. Downed live wires also hampered firefighting efforts. Portions of the roof of the duplex also collapsed.
Numerous cases of water were delivered to the scene and the Gong Club canteen also responded and set up one block from the scene before the LDH lines in the street. On this humid night, firefighters took off their turnout gear and took a break on the sidewalks with bottled water.
Firefighters were containing the fire around 1 a.m. and shortly thereafter some mutual aid companies started to pick up and were released. As the sun rose over the scene, municipal workers began the clean up and salvage process in their DPW building. The duplex appeared to be destroyed.
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