Desperate to get a breath after a March 12 fire filled the hallway of a 48th Street apartment building with smoke, a resident suffered lacerations to his hand when he broke the hallway window.
“He was fleeing his apartment from the third floor after he discovered the building was on fire. This tenant was the only reported injury, and he was treated by EMS at the scene,” said Fire Chief Greg Rogers.
The two-alarm fire, which is currently under investigation, left 13 families displaced after it ripped through the three-story building at around 6 p.m.
Bayonne firefighters dispatched to the residences at 169 W. 48th Street after multiple frantic phone calls for a building on fire.
“Heavy flames were witnessed blowing out the windows on the second floor.” – Fire Chief Greg Rogers
“Numerous tenants had self-evacuated from the structure,” Rogers said. “Heavy flames were witnessed blowing out the windows on the second floor and extending up to the third floor, causing the apartment above to burn.”
Firefighters advanced hose lines into the building, and extinguished the main body of fire in an apartment on the second floor in the rear of the building. Fire hoses were also advanced to the third floor to extinguish fire in the apartment directly above.
“Fortunately, the fire did not extend into the roof or cockloft,” Rogers said.
Firefighters did manage to save a cat from a third floor apartment, prompting cheers from evacuated tenants who watched the fire suppression efforts from across the street. A dog was also rescued from another unit, Rogers said.
Two apartments suffered fire damage, and the remaining apartments suffered varying degrees of smoke and water damage.
Inspectors from the Bayonne Building Department were on the scene and ruled that the structure was unfit for immediate occupancies, leaving the evacuated tenants to seek new lodging.
Four tenants sought shelter with Red Cross, and the remaining tenants went with family or friends, Rogers said. The Police Department, EMS, and the Fire Canteen were also assisting at the scene.
The Fire Investigator’s preliminary finding is that the fire originated on the second floor in a rear apartment bedroom. The cause is under investigation.
Rogers said once the investigation is concluded, the property reverts to the buildings owner for remediation, which will allow residents to re-inhabit the structure.
“That becomes an issue between the owner and the insurance company,” Rogers said.
Buildings closed as possible danger
In an unrelated activity, the city building department shut off access to two residential buildings after determining they were at risk to collapse.
A police officer, while on patrol, passed a building at Kennedy Boulevard and West 54th Street and seemed noticed one of the walls leaning, prompting an investigation.
Meanwhile, bricks and stucco falling from the side of a second building at Kennedy Boulevard and West 54th Street prompted the city to close off that building, as well.
Both buildings appeared to have cracks in the exterior walls and broken windows in one building, as well as cracks that suggested a leaning wall, which caused the city to take action, keeping the buildings isolated from the public.
City officials apparently are very concerned about both buildings, and Rogers said his department cordoned off both buildings.
“A police car is in front of both buildings to make sure no one from the public can be injured,” Rogers said. “We shut down the utilities in both buildings – neither building is occupied.”
City Business Administrator Steve Gallo said the city has brought in a structural engineer to evaluate both buildings.
City officials say the owners to both buildings have been contacted. If deemed a danger to the public, the buildings could be demolished.