An early morning blaze on January 29th at 1203 Washington Street proved fatal for one resident and forced scores from their homes as fire raced through their 5 story, block-long building which stretches from 12th Street to 13th Street.
The initial fire dispatch was at 1:43am with a second alarm sounded upon arrival of the first due companies. Firefighters were faced with heavy fire conditions in an apartment on the fourth floor and fire rapidly extending upward. As the flames spread to the fifth floor, into the cockloft and ultimately through the roof; third and fourth alarms were sounded, bringing mutual aid companies from Jersey City and North Hudson Regional to the scene and to cover the rest of the city.
As crews made an aggressive interior attack, other companies rousted residents from their sleep and helped them to safety with basically just the clothes on their backs. Friends and neighbors offered coats and blankets in the frigid, sub freezing night air. A temporary shelter was set up in a nearby school with the help of the American Red Cross.
Before it was all over, fire burned through most of the third, fourth and fifth floors at the southern end (12th Street) of the structure. There was a partial collapse of the roof before the blaze was declared under control, after more than three hours.
Several firefighters were treated at the scene for non-life threatening conditions and smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire is under investigation.