What to Know
Two children died and at least a dozen other people were taken to hospitals as a five-alarm fire consumed a multi-family home in New Jersey
Chopper 4 footage showed a heavily charred and damage home; smoke billowed from the roof and sides of the building
People were seen gathering on the roofs of nearby buildings to watch the major emergency response unfold; a cause is under investigation
Two young brothers and their 5-year-old cousin died, and at least a dozen other people, including more young children and several firefighters, were hospitalized after a raging fire consumed a multi-family home in New Jersey Friday, sending flames from the basement to the roof, authorities said.
A 5-year-old girl and her cousin, a 2-year-old boy, were pronounced dead after the five-alarm fire broke out at a house on 25th Street in Union City before 9 a.m., authorities said. The boy's 7-year-old brother, who was critically injured at first, died later in the evening.
Two other children and one woman remain in critical condition. A man is in stable condition. Eight firefighters were also taken to local hospitals to be treated for minor injuries.
Witnesses described a horrifying scene.
"They were all unconscious, one child's face was burned," said Eddei Miranda.
Relatives identified the first two victims as Mailyn Wood, 5, and Jason Gonzalez, 2, who were cousins. The name of Jason's 7-year-old brother hasn't been released. A shaken neighbor said she saw children on stretchers and parents in hysterics nearby.
"You see parents screaming and crying for their kids, and it's terrifying," said Elisa Jiminez.
Eudes Hernandez, a friend of a family that lost a child, was at the corner of the street when he says he saw smoke and fire. He ran to the flaming building and tried desperately to help get everyone out. He said he tried to knock on the doors, but he couldn't even see anything because of all the smoke.
"I feel so bad for them. I knock on the door, try to get out everybody," he said.
Chopper 4 footage showed an entire side of the multi-story building charred black from heavy fire. The windows looked like smoldering panels of charcoal as smoke billowed from the roof and sides of the house. People were seen gathering on the roofs of neighboring buildings to watch the response unfold.
"It is a very difficult day for Union City," said Mayor Brian P. Stack. "I continue to pray for the victims and their families and offer any resources I can to assist them. I am extremely thankful for the efforts of our first responders who gave their all under extremely difficult circumstances."
The Red Cross is providing temporary assistance for displaced residents. The mayor's office says it will also be collecting donations in check or money order form for the victims. They can be made payable to the Union City Fire Victims Fund and sent to:
Union City Fire Victims' Fund
City of Union City
Office of Mayor Brian P. Stack
3715 Palisade Avenue
Union City, NJ 07087