Four people were killed early Thursday when a fire ripped through a rowhouse in Jersey City where the mayor says firefighters may have been delayed by confusion over the address.
Mayor Steven Fulop said the response time for the fire was approximately double the usual three to four minutes, and that confusion about the street name may have contributed to the delay.
The victims were believed to be a couple in their 80s and their two sons, in their 50s. Four bodies were found several hours after the fire at the four-family home on Grant Avenue was extinguished; the identities have not been confirmed.
The blaze broke out at about 1 a.m., firefighters said, and quickly spread. Flames and heavy smoke could be seen jutting out of windows of four homes.
"The flames were bouncing from house to house, almost like hopscotch," said one resident.
The Red Cross said it is assisting 37 people displaced by the fire; three families are from the four fire-damaged homes and the others live in nearby buildings that were also evacuated.
A firefighter was taken to the hospital for minor electrical shocks, fire officials said.
Jersey City Fire Chief Darren Rivers said the fire was brought under control shortly before 7 a.m., but utility crews were working to secure a leaking gas line under one of the homes. Once that's fixed, he said the buildings most damaged by the fire will likely be demolished.