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Passerby firefighters save woman, pit bulls from Paramus house blaze

Photo Credit: Gianna Volpe (Daily Voice
Photo Credit: Gianna Volpe (Daily Voice
Photo Credit: Gianna Volpe (Daily Voice

CVP EXCLUSIVE: Two volunteer firefighters passing by this afternoon got a woman and her two pit bulls out of a Paramus house moments before it was engulfed in flames, killing the owner’s cat.

Shawn Hagal told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that he and Ryan Meyers had just delivered dirt to Bergen Regional Medical Center for a paving materials company and were returning a pair of tri-axle dump trucks to their employer’s Newark yard when he saw the smoke from the Farview Avenue fire around 2:20 p.m.

“As soon as we got closer, I saw the fire in back,” said Hagal, a Fairview firefighter who lives in Ridgefield. “I jammed on the brakes and Ryan nearly hit me.

“We left both left trucks in the middle of Farview and ran.”

The 46-year-old woman, whose mother died just two weeks ago, said she was petting one of her dogs in the living room when she heard a noise from the rear of the house. The next thing she knew, flames were headed toward her.

Hagal and Meyers — a former Wallington firefighter who recently moved to Clifton — got her and her pit bulls out safely, then went back to search for her cat.

“We heard a pop and some of the ceiling began to fall. We had to get out,” Hagal said. “I ran to the back of the house to see whether there was any extension — just then there was a flash through the house.

“The back was rippin’,” he said. “I’ve been in hot fires, but this one was incredibly hot.”

The blaze apparently began back there, said Paramus Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg, who is also a fire chief.

“The original call brought Paramus Fire units Engine 2, Engine 4, Ladder 4 and the Rescue Squad along with Paramus EMS,” he said. “The fire department immediately requested a second alarm assignment which brought Paramus Engine 1, Engine 3 and Ladder 1 to the fire scene.”

They had the blaze knocked down in about 10 minutes and fully extinguished in a little less than 40, Ehrenberg said.

Firefighters from Washington Township, Rochelle Park, Oradell and Fair Lawn provided additional coverage for the borough, the chief said. Volunteers from the Teaneck Box 54 Club assisted by providing water for the firefighters.

Farview was closed in both directions from Century Road to Spring Valley Avenue.

After making sure the woman and her two charges were fine, Hagal and Meyers got their trucks out of the way.

“Mine was in front of a fire hydrant,” he said. “We had just parked them where they were and ran in. Nothing else crossed our minds.

“I feel so bad for that woman. First she loses her mother, then this. What a terrible thing to happen.

“I’m just glad she got out alive.”

The borough Fire Prevention Bureau and police detectives were investigating.

PHOTOS: Shawn Hagal (top)
Gianna Volpe / The Daily Voice (below)

PHOTOS: Gianna Volpe (Daily Voice)

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