AFTERMATH: A windswept fire blew through five interconnected four-story condominium buildings under construction in Cliffside Park tonight, blowing embers that ignited a second blaze that destroyed the upper half of a three-story apartment building two blocks away and forced a neighborhood evacuation doesn’t appear suspicious, authorities said.
No immediate serious injuries were reported, although a Palisade Avenue resident possibly suffered a heart attack and at least one firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation.
Investigators it appears the blaze that broke out at the Walker street buildings was accidental.
An extensive overhaul followed a chain reaction of events that brought firefighters from no fewer than eight other Bergen towns, along with North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue.
“Despite a logistical nightmare of sub-freezing temperatures, brutal wind blowing the fire right at them and electrical wires right above them, Cliffside firefighters began putting water on the fire within minutes and kept an even larger tragedy from occurring,” said borough resident Richard Criscione, a CLIFFVIEW PILOT correspondent.
Borough firefighters were battling flames that roared on the former site of Marburn Warehouse at Walker Street and Cliff Lane when flying embers ignited the second blaze on the roof and cockoft of the Palisade Avenue building.
Embers hit other buildings on Walker and at least one more on Palisade, as well, along with some utility poles and vehicles, emergency responders at the scene said.
Those evacuated were taken to the senior center on Gorge Road, they said. There were no immediate indications Wednesday morning of how many were left homeless.
The cause was being investigated by borough fire officials and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Arson Investigations Unit — standard procedure when the cause isn’t instantly known.
Multiple sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT they heard at least three loud blasts — possibly propane tanks exploding — from the upper floors of the Walker Street building around 5:30 p.m.
The fire quickly went to three alarms, and by 7:30 the roof was gone.
Firefighters from Bogota, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Hackensack Leonia, Little Ferry, Palisades Park and Teaneck responded to the scenes or as standby mutual aid.
DPW crews spread salt to keep runoff from turning slick in the frigid night.
VIDEO by Alan Sikiric (via North Jerzy Fire Alerts)
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