The fire department received the initial call at 4:50 p.m. reporting smoke at the storage facility. When the department responded and searched the building, they realized the smoke was coming from the 100 block of 34th Street, Barrett said.
An employee of Union City Mirror and Furniture said that during the height of the afternoon thunderstorm, he heard a loud bang and the lights went out, and he received a call from the alarm company that the building’s fire alarm had gone off. The employee then evacuated the building, Barrett said.
The N.J. State Fire Marshall and Union City Police Fire Investigations team determined that a lightning strike to the storage facility roof probably started the smouldering fire that began in between the roof and the drop ceiling along a fire wall. It was contained to that area by the wall, Barrett said, but it kept moving laterally so that firefighters had to open up holes in the roof to access it.
The fire never entered the interior of the building, and it was declared under control at 7:30 p.m., Barrett added.
The fire reached a fourth alarm primarily because of the effect the heat had on the firefighters, Barrett said, and there were no reported injuries. They received mutual aid from the Jersey City Fire Department at the fourth alarm.
“The department did a fantastic job of containing [the fire],” Barrett explained, “Otherwise the whole block could have caught fire.” -- Gennarose Pope