Fires Rage Throughout Tri-State in Cold Conditions

Frigid temperatures made it difficult for firefighters to put out the blazes

Monday, Nov 25, 2013  |  Updated 9:13 AM EDT
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Wind Whips Fires Throughout Tri-State

Two houses were destroyed in a fire in Elizabeth Sunday.

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Fires raged in several parts of the tri-state Sunday, fanned by whipping winds as frigid temperatures made it difficult for firefighters to put out the blazes.

In Elizabeth, N.J., two homes were destroyed by a fire that began early in the evening, and officials said they would be uninhabitable.

"The heavy winds helped fan the fire," said Elizabeth Fire Chief Thomas McNamera. "Just took a lot of time and water to get men in place to start putting the fire out."

It was unclear what caused the blaze.

Elsewhere in New Jersey, several homes in Old Bridge Township were evacuated while firefighters battled a brush fire starting in the morning.

Authorities said the evacuation of homes near Washington Avenue and Joseph Court was ordered Sunday morning "as a precaution," and most residents had been allowed to return by evening. They said no homes had been damaged and no injuries were reported.

In upper Manhattan, firefighters battled a three-alarm blaze that displaced dozens of residents. 

According to officials, the fast-moving fire spread through the top three floors of a five-story building on West 138th Street in Hamilton Heights after the flames broke out around 7 a.m. Crews brought the blaze under control about two hours later.

Two firefighters were sent to the hospital with minor injuries and one resident was treated for minor injuries at the scene.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though authorities believe it started in a third-floor apartment.

Eliza Garcia said she and her family were forced to scale the fire from their fifth-floor apartment.

"All I saw when my brother opened the door was a lot of smoke," Garcia said. "We couldn't go down the stairs even if we wanted to."

On Monday morning, firefighters in Yonkers battled a two-alarm blaze at a two-story home on Hardy Place. It's not known how the fire started.

--Sheldon Dutes and Ida Siegal contributed reporting

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