What to Know
- At least a dozen people were displaced from their homes after a fire spread to three adjoining buildings in Paterson, New Jersey
- One firefighter had minor injuries, but no one else was hurt
- "It was that volume of fire that was really intense, coupled with the winds going pretty good for awhile," said the Paterson fire chief
A fast-moving fire spread through three buildings in Paterson, New Jersey, Wednesday night, displacing more than a dozen people, officials said.
Firefighters said the blaze started in between two buildings on Madison Avenue near the corner of 20th Avenue just after 5 p.m. It quickly picked up steam, with flames roaring out of one of the houses, then ripping through the two buildings and singeing the outside of another.
"It was that volume of fire that was really intense, coupled with the winds going pretty good for awhile," said Paterson Fire Chief Brian McDermott.
At least 75 firefighters rushed to the site and worked for hours to get it under control.
Ruben Pegan was working inside a T-Mobile store on Madison Avenue when the heat and the smell of the fire infiltrated the store.
"We could feel the smell of the smoke, and we just ran outside to get as many people as we could," he said.
As soon as Pegan stepped out, he saw the flames ripping through a second floor of a neighboring multi-family home. He didn't think twice, running next door to alert the neighbors to get out.
"We yelled, 'There's a fire, a fire, get out,'" said Pegan.
Danny Mendoza rushed home from work to find his apartment was one of the ones devoured by fire.
"When I got here, the first thing I had to look for was my family, and everyone was safe," he said.
One firefighter had minor injuries, but no one who lives in or works in the buildings was hurt. Red Cross is assisting the 13 people from three families who are without a home.
Mendoza said there's only one thing left to do: "Just gotta pick up ourselves and keep marching forward, that's all I can do for the moment."
Fire officials said one of the neighboring houses had 40 cats but the owner was able to secure them.