Incident report and photos by Ron Jeffers
Another holiday in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, and another fire. That’s what some were saying on the fireground when a multiple-alarm fire gutted a Stuyvesant Avenue building on Good Friday, March 25. These same firefighters battled a long-duration three-alarmer at a recycling business on Thanksgiving in 2015.
Around 4:35 p.m., Lyndhurst fire units were dispatched to reported fire at 215 Stuyvesant Avenue. Upon arrival, they found fire venting out display windows of a two-story, wood-frame structure with a dentist office and vacant store area on the ground floor and apartments above. Flames began to melt the front bumper and headlight of a parked auto. The only exposure problem was on the “D” side, a one-story attached commercial building. Chief Paul F. Haggerty struck a second alarm later followed by a third alarm.
Flames quickly spread to the second floor and consumed the entire structure. A wide column of smoke became visible across the Meadowlands. At the scene, low-banking smoke made it difficult to see the structure, and the exposure, on the Stuyvesant Avenue side. East Rutherford Engine 3’s quint apparatus had plenty of room in a rear lot to set up their 75-foot aerial ladder for a ladder pipe operation, as flames broke through the roof. Interior firefighters were removed from the building as conditions began to worsen. Exterior handlines were used around the structure as well as Engine 1’s deck gun on Stuyvesant Avenue. A local fire official said a masonry wall between the fire building and Exposure “D,” occupied by a dry cleaner business, prevented the fire from spreading.
The stubborn fire was suppressed with the help of mutual aid fire companies from Rutherford, East Rutherford, North Arlington, and Carlstadt. In addition, the Moonachie Rescue Squad dispatched their rehab unit to the scene. Bottled water was dispensed to members around the fire scene. East Rutherford Firefighter Kevin Felton was treated for minor injuries and returned to duty.
This fire served as another example of dedicated volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel leaving their homes and families on a holiday to serve their community.