New Jersey

60 Displaced as Fast-Moving Fire Consumes New Jersey Food Storage Building, Spreads to Apartments

Crews battled a fast-moving blaze at a New Jersey commercial building that left neighbors without power and injured two firefighters Tuesday night, officials say.

Fire crews said it took about three hours to get the fire under control after it completely torched the building, which stores food products, on First Street in Passaic. Flames were seen shooting out of the structure.

The fire quickly spread up the rear walls to an apartment building behind the building on Market Street, fire officials said.

A young man who lives in the apartment building said he told his family to run out in their pajamas. His is one of 11 families the Red Cross is helping in the aftermath of the blaze; the organization says about 60 people are displaced.

The fire chief said putting out the fire in two different buildings made it more difficult than expected.

“The hard part was that the roof collapsed and there was a lot of fire burning underneath the roof,” Fire Chief Joseph Cizjer said. “The adjoining buildings were very close with exposures on the sides and the rear on Market Street."

The apartment building’s sprinkler system was activated, which helped contain most of fire, however, dozens of people were forced out onto the street because of water damage, crews said.

Cizjer said it could be at least a day or two before displaced residents would be able to return to what remained of their homes.

Because the blaze was so taxing on the water system -- firefighters had about five or six hydrants going at the same time -- the Passaic Valley Water utility says residents may see poor water pressure or discolored water in their homes. 

The mayor took to Facebook Live to alert residents of the flames and thick smoke from the blaze that spread for blocks around the area.  

Crews remained on the scene through early Wednesday. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The injured firefighters were treated at a hospital; they're expected to be OK. 

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