North Bergen firefighter dies in line of duty

(09/09/06) UNION CITY - An early-morning fire in Union City claimed the life of a North Bergen firefighter Saturday.

Vincent Neglia, 45, responded to the two-building fire shortly before 6 a.m. with others from the North Hudson Regional Fire Department. Fire officials said the 23-year veteran from North Bergen lost contact with his colleagues before two firefighters entered the three-story apartment building to search for him. He says by the time they found Neglia and rushed him to St. Mary's Hospital in Hoboken it was too late. Another firefighter was airlifted to the burn unit at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston and is in critical condition.

Neglia normally worked for Engine 13 in North Bergen, but Saturday he was filling in at Union City's squad two. Fire officials said Neglia was a dedicated, well-respected member of the department.

All residents of the building were evacuated safely with the help of 18-year-old resident Nestor Mendoza. Mendoza called 911 after hearing the fire alarm. He then woke up eight family members and knocked on other people's doors to alert them of the fire.

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