Large Fire Tears Through Paterson, N.J. Building

Friday, Mar 1, 2013  |  Updated 6:46 AM EDT
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Large Fire Tears Through Paterson, N.J. Building

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Authorities are investigating the cause of a large fire that tore through a vacant five-story building in Paterson, N.J. Thursday. 

The fire started at about 4:45 p.m. at 119 Godwin Ave., according to officials. It quickly grew to a three-alarm fire, with flames coming up through the roof.

The fire was so intense firefighters could not get into the building and had to fight the flames from outside. 

Marcos Martinez said he was getting ready for work when he saw the fire across the street. He told his sister to call 911.

"At first, all you can see is smoke from the roof, then the windows cracking and flames coming out," he said. 

The concern when the fire started raging out of control was that it would damage the 100-year-old landmark church next to it. 

Solomon Temple Rev. Willie Maxwell rushed to the church after seeing the fire on TV. He and other neighbors believe homeless squatters were inside the building and may have played a role in the fire.

"They're there just about every day," he said. 

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