Seventy firefighters from 22 companies responded to the fire at 13th St. and Palisade Ave. late Sunday morning; some companies actually saw the smoke and responded before the alarm was transmitted.
“Obviously this was an extremely intense fire,” said Jeff Welz, North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue co-director. “Probably one of the most serious fires we’ve seen in a number of years.”
Despite of the intensity of the fire, there were no fatalities and only a few minor injuries incurred by firefighters. Welz attributed the lack of fatalities to the time of day and vigilance of residents.
“People were up and about,” he said. “They got out right away. If this would’ve occurred at 2 a.m. the results might’ve been more disastrous.”
The quick spreading fire fed on gasoline tanks from vehicles next to the home and asphalt shingles which covered the side of the building.
Asphalt shingles, which are common in older buildings, are highly flammable.
The black smoke, which wafted over Weehawken and Hoboken into parts of New York City, is indicative of such petroleum based products burning and actually prompted the NYC Office of Emergency Management to warn residents that they might see or smell smoke in the area.
Although those items may have been accelerants, the cause and origin of the fire has not yet been released.
“We definitely believe the fire started outside of the building,” said Welz, who added they are waiting to hear back from investigators with a preliminary report sometime today.
Meanwhile, displaced residents are being assisted by the City of Union City, the American Red Cross, and the North Hudson Community Action Corporation.
Mark Albiez, a spokesman for the city, said they will continue doing everything they can to help life get back to normal. “We’ll work with the residents to ensure that they’re placed in adequate housing,” he said.
Monetary contributions can be made to the Union City Fire Victims fund by contacting (201) 348-5755 or to the local chapter of the Red Cross online at www.redcrossnnj.org.
For more information on assisting the Red Cross, contact the Response Department at (973) 797-3300.
Residents should evacuate immediately in the event of a fire, an act which saved many lives in Union City this weekend. Additionally, as summertime barbecues roll around again, fire officials are reminding residents they should not keep propane tanks near homes or on balconies.