Stubborn Guttenberg (NJ) Fire Keeps Firefighters Busy

Photos and info by Ron Jeffers

A fire involving a remodeled three-story wood-frame, mixed-occupancy building resulted in a labor-intensive battle by firefighters from the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue that protects five Hudson County (NJ) municipalities.

Shortly after 9 p.m., on November 19, 2021, an AFA assignment of three engines, one truck and a battalion chief were dispatched to 201-70th Street in the town of Guttenberg, New Jersey. Police Officer Jabber arrived and reported smoke in the rear of the first-floor restaurant.  Upon arrival of the first fire companies, the assignment was filled out, dispatching another engine, truck, rescue, safety officer, rapid intervention team, and Deputy 1.  

Firefighters made an interior attack as smoke continued to thicken. All occupants of the restaurant and apartments were removed and a second alarm was transmitted. Interior units reported fire traveling “voids on the ‘C’ side,” and a third alarm was struck by Deputy Chief Mike Falco. 

Inside the building, firefighters were compelled to pull tin ceilings to find hidden fire, a labor-intensive operation. Heavy smoke rolled out of the building and covered the neighborhood. Fire eventually broke through the roof of the structure located at the corner of Broadway. Flames attracted a New York TV station news helicopter that flew overhead to cover the story.

Numerous handlines were used along with a lot of “truck work.” The first two ladder companies on the assignment were aerial ladders. The second alarm truck, Tower Ladder 3, was a block away due to the narrow and congested streets that are common in this area. Truckies used an aerial ladder and saws to open up the top-floor sidings on Broadway, where firefighters had difficulty gaining access to flames from the interior. After the heavy fire was knocked down, apparatus was moved from the Broadway side of the building and Tower Ladder 3was placed into position. Firefighters opened up the space along the “B” side of the building to expose the hidden flames and knocked them out with a tower monitor.

One firefighter suffered nonlife-threatening injuries and was taken to Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, where he was treated and released.

The main body of fire was was knocked down around 10:40 p.m. Weary firefighters took breaks outside of the building and walked a block away from the scene to the Gong Club canteen truck for bottled water, hot chocolate, or coffee. 


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