CLIFFVIEW PILOT SCOOP: Firefighters had to stand by in the high winds tonight, waiting nearly 4½ hours for PSE&G to respond and shut down the current, while a blaze burned at the abandoned Amloid Toy factory in Saddle Brook. Just after 10:30, a section of the roof collapsed. It wasn’t until nearly 2 a.m. that they were able to get the fire under control. Then it spread to another building.
Two firefighters were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
A transformer exploded around 6:30, creating arcing wires and smoking conditions at the North 5th Street building, sending flames that could be seen two blocks away.
“We basically have firemen watching a slowly burning fire that they can’t do anything about,” one emergency services worker told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
“They want to be able to do what they need to do” but can’t because of all the live wires, he said. So they’re “watching closely and protecting the other buildings.”
PSE&G gas workers finally showed up, but they couldn’t shut off the gas due to the downed wires.
The wait continued until 11 p.m. for the PSE&G electrical crew.
However, as of 11:30, they hadn’t cut all the power and there were water-supply problems — making it that much more difficult to handle what fast became a stubborn blaze.
Although the fire was essentially brought under control, there were still several hot spots flaring. Maywood and Elmwood Park firefighters were on scene, as well.
“They’re going to be there awhile,” a local fire official told CLIFFVIEW PILOT just after midnight.
Around 2 a.m., firefighters thought they felt the end of their hours-long ordeal coming. But it turned out the fire had extended to a neighboring warehouse.
“This is the craziest thing I have ever seen,” a rank-and-file officer told CLIFFVIEW PILOT earlier in the evening. “The power company pulled all of their guys off the road.
“They are pulling us off the road and having us respond only for life-threatening emergencies. I am responding from my home.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.