Fire officials investigate why North Bergen building's alarms were off in fatal blaze

(09/25/04) NORTH BERGEN - Firefighters are trying to determine what set off the blaze that took the life of an elderly woman in the building at 325 79th Street on Friday afternoon.

A preliminary investigation shows that the building's fire alarms were switched off at the breaker; investigators are looking into why the early detection systems in the building failed. So far, the building's management has not been given any citations for the incident.

The fire claimed the life of a senior woman confined to a wheelchair, whose name is not yet being released. The blaze apparently worsened when an oxygen-producing machine, owned by the elderly woman who died, fueled the flames.

Fire officials say the blaze swept through several of the nearly 31 units in the apartment building. Three families will have to live in hotels until their rooms are inspected and approved for re-entry.

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