UPDATE: Cliffside Park fire officials said they don’t know why propane tanks exploded and sparked a windswept fire 10 days ago that blew through five interconnected four-story condominium buildings under construction and ignited another fire nearby.
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 night of Nov. 18. The fire quickly went to three alarms, and by 7:30 the roof was gone.
A roofing contractor had been working there earlier, the sources said.
Embers blown from the scene ignited a second blaze that destroyed the upper half of a three-story apartment building two blocks away and forced a neighborhood evacuation.
The chain reaction of events 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.
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)
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.