A Bayonne firefighter injured his knee as fire units responded to a two-alarm blaze on West Second Street on May 3, rescuing an unconscious elderly woman who had collapsed on the kitchen floor.
“The first arriving firefighters were confronted with people evacuating the building.” – Greg Rogers
As many as 30 people fled the 35-unit apartment building as fire engines arrived.
“The first arriving firefighters were confronted with people evacuating the building and reports of smoke on the upper floors,” he said.
A firefighter hurt his knee as he helped advance hoses nearer to the source of the fire on the sixth floor of the building.
“The rescue team was confronted with heavy smoke inside the apartment, and an elderly female was found unconscious on the floor of the kitchen,” Rogers said. “Fireman Thomas Weber and Fireman Mario DeStefano – under the direction of captains Chris Auriemma and Jason Verdon – rescued the victim by dragging her out into the hallway.”
Then four other firefighters carried her down six flights of stairs to the first floor, where firefighters administered oxygen and then gave her over to technicians from McCabe Ambulance Services for further treatment and transportation to the Bayonne Medical Center.
Rogers said firefighters discovered and extinguished the blaze in the apartment’s living room.
Two other women, not from the original apartment, were treated for smoke inhalation, one of whom was transported to BMC for further treatment.
“The building tenants were allowed to return to their apartment with the exception of the apartment where the fire originated,” Rogers said. “The [Bayonne] Housing Authority was called to the scene to restore the building services and for cleanup.”
Investigators say the fire was apparently caused by burning candles on a religious alter in the apartment.
“The victim reportedly attempted to extinguish the fire, but was overcome by smoke,” Rogers said, adding that fires in high rise apartments are particularly difficult to deal with since tenants tend to evacuate down the stairways while firefighters are trying to climb up them. “Also, extra firefighters are needed to get the necessary equipment to the upper floors and to ventilate the dangerous smoke that fills the upper hallways.”