UNION CITY -- A five-alarm and a two-alarm fire broke out in two Union City apartment buildings Wednesday, displacing dozens of residents and sending four firefighters to the hospital for heat exhaustion as a result of temperatures that soared into the high 90s. Several firefighters were treated on the scene and released back to duty.
“The heat index was 100 yesterday, and you have to take into consideration that their [fire] gear weighs about 100 pounds,” North Hudson Regional Fire Director Jeff Welz said Thursday morning. “We usually say we have to add an additional alarm for hot weather, and in this case it was very true.”
The first two-alarm fire, called in at 3:15 p.m., began in the wall of a third-floor apartment at 525 10th St. and was under control in 15 minutes, Welz said. Fifteen residents were displaced.
The second fire which began in the three-story corner apartment building located at 2816 Kennedy Blvd. at around 10 p.m. was already visible and venting through the roof and the rear windows, Welz said.
At the fourth alarm, Jersey City firefighters were called in, and the fifth alarm was called due to the fact that “the firefighters were literally tumbling to the ground from exhaustion,” Welz added.
The building was attached to several similar buildings toward 27th Street, which posed the threat of rapid spread if the fire were not contained. Fortunately, it was.
“It was a tremendous save of the adjacent buildings considering the extreme weather and the aggressive nature of the fire,” Welz said. “The guys took a pounding but managed to keep the fire to the third floor.”
Welz estimate that around twelve families were displaced, and they were temporarily housed at the William V. Musto Cultural Center on 15th Street before being moved to local hotels. – Gennarose Pope