Newark Fire Leaves Families Homeless

Three families lost their homes in a fire that engulfed a multi-story building in Newark overnight, authorities said.

Flames leaped from the roof and windows of the mixed-occupancy building on Orange Street near Roseville Avenue shortly before midnight and firefighters battled the four-alarm blaze into Tuesday morning.

Scattered glass littered the sidewalk as the sun rose, and charred clothing hung in the windows of some of the apartments gutted by the fire.

Maria Batista, who lives with her daughter Natasha next to the building that was on fire, said she and her daughter fled when they smelled smoke. Batista was terrified the blaze would take her home, too.

She cried as the wind picked up, expecting it to carry the flames to her home. It was a miracle it was spared, she said.

Neighbors said many of the families who lived in the most damaged homes had lived in the building for more than 20 years.

"They didn't realize there was a fire. Firefighters got them out of the house," said Natasha Batista. "There was a lot of crying. I didn't know what to think."

The Red Cross said three families were displaced by the blaze. One declined assistance; the organization is helping the other two find temporary homes.

The buildings adjacent to the one where the fire started sustained minor fire damage.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation. 

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