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On The Job – Jersey City

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Thirty-four residents of a row of wood-frame dwellings, sharing a common cockloft on Summit Avenue, were left homeless when flames tore through their homes. At 0419 hours Fire Dispatch received numerous calls reporting a fire on Summit Avenue near Grand Street. Passing police and EMS units also reported a fire. Dispatch announced the incident as a “working fire” to the first-alarm companies (4 engines, 2 trucks, 1 rescue, and Battalion 1). That was followed by the alarm room sending the “working fire assignment” (Deputy 1, Battalion 4, Safety Battalion, Mask Service Unit, a 5th engine and F.A.S.T. truck). Engine 10, coming from the East, reported heavy smoke in the area. Squad 4, responding from the West, observed the rear of two-story attached wood-frame dwellings heavily involved. Captain Robert Keating, of Squad 4, transmitted a second-alarm upon arrival (4 engines and a truck). Firefighting operations were hampered by overhead wires and a large tree, eliminating the use of an aerial ladder or tower ladder, a common cockloft, narrow hallways and tight rooms. Plus, the row houses were built on a hill. Firefighters had to carry their hand and saws up ground ladders, to perform a trench cut to stop the spread of the fire. Acting Deputy Chief Peter Gasiorowski transmitted a 3rd alarm at 0432 hours (2 engines and a truck). This was followed by a special call for the North Hudson Regional Fire Department’s Mask Service Unit. With the fire involving 31, 31A, 33 and 35 Summit Avenue, a fourth alarm was sounded at 0447 hours (2 engines and a truck). Later, special calls for additional manpower were ordered to bring more city units and North Hudson Squad’s 2, 7 and Battalion 1 to the scene. As the sun rose over the city, firefighters managed to contain the fire to four of the buildings in the block long row. The structures all suffered heavy damage. The Red Cross reported to the scene to find shelter for the residents that ran out into the street with but the clothes on their backs and nothing more.

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