A fast-moving fire sparked by an apparent gas leak inside a Jersey City garage has destroyed at least two buildings as crews struggled to knock out the blaze amid water issues and a ruptured gas line Friday evening.
The fire erupted shortly after 5 p.m. Friday at a commercial garage near the intersection of JFK Boulevard and Secaucus Road. A fire chief on the scene says it appears people were working on a car inside the garage when they heard some sort of explosion, apparently caused by a leaky acetylene tank.
The workers tried to put out the fire but couldn't -- and the fire continued to spread through other equipment in the garage.
The blaze quickly spread into the building next door on the corner of the block, and went up inside that building.
Chopper 4 over the scene showed thick black smoke rising from the auto-body garage as members of the Jersey City Fire Department descended on the area. Tower ladders surrounded the building and firefighters were seen on the roof of an adjoining deli as they tried to battle the flames bursting through the top of the buildings.
By 6 p.m., the fire had spread to two other buildings — the deli and a three-story apartment building. Smoke was seen coming up through the eaves of the deli as it was ravaged by flames.
The fire chief says everyone got out of the buildings safely but crews struggled with water issues in the beginning. Then one of the gas lines broke, feeding the fire.
PSE&G arrived and shut down the gas main. Otherwise, the fire was mostly contained by 7 p.m.
A man who owns the fire-ravaged deli with his father says he stepped out to find "the whole back place just blowing up." The deli owner, Ihab, said the store was brand new, open just five months.
A number of streets are closed in the area, including JFK Boulevard between Sixth and Hague streets, and Secaucus Road between JFK and Summit avenues.