Five firefighters were hurt and nearly two dozen families were left homeless after a massive fire ravaged their houses in Jersey City, N.J., on Sunday morning.
The blaze began just before 4:30 a.m., and flames quickly spread across at least 10 row homes at Claremont and West Side avenues, officials said. The six-alarm fire raged for hours, and every fire company in Jersey City responded, along with three companies from nearby Newark.
Timothy Levine, one of the displaced fire victims, described the chaotic moments trying to escape his burning home.
"It was very rushed, you know," he said. "You couldn't grab anything. The only thing you could grab was your kids that you have and just be out."
Fire officials told The Jersey Journal that the blaze apparently started in the basement of one of the two-story homes and quickly spread through a common loft space. But what sparked the blaze remained a mystery.
"That's a common void that all of the houses share ... there's no stops,'' city Fire Director Armando Roman told the newspaper. "I can't remember the last time we had something this big and this much loss ... what a devastating fire. This is the kind of fire you would expect many injuries and fatalities.''
Several firefighters took to the buildings' roofs to battle the blaze, but some were nearly trapped there when the fire began to quickly spread.
The injuries suffered by the firefighters were not considered life-threatening; all were being treated at a hospital.
The Red Cross is assisting eight families with temporary shelter, while the rest of the 22 displaced families are planning to stay with friends and family, a spokeswoman said.
"We may have lost some homes here, but the best thing is that everyone's accounted for," said Levine.
New York City's Office of Emergency Management said residents in Manhattan and Brooklyn may smell smoke because of the wind direction.
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