‘My whole life is in there’ – Massive fire destroys Fort Lee apartment building

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Hundreds of people are now without a home after a massive blaze destroyed a Fort Lee apartment building.

The fire was first reported just after 4 p.m. Thursday at the Linwood apartment complex on Edwin Avenue. Officials say that the fire first started in the basement of the building, which housed the building’s boiler and garbage area. But that fire quickly spread and consumed the building’s five floors.

Tenants tell News 12 New Jersey that the smoke alarms were going off inside the building, so all residents were able to escape without injury. Firefighters were forced to go up on some of the fire escapes to bring some of the people down safely.

The fire became so intense that around 6:30 p.m. all crew members were ordered to evacuate from the building and fight it from the outside. The roof of the building collapsed not long after.

The Linwood Apartment Complex is made up of two buildings separated by a firewall. Firefighters were able to keep the fire under control enough that the second building was not badly damaged and will be salvageable.

Tenants who had nowhere else to go were evacuated to the Fort Lee senior center on Main Street. About 40 people were at the shelter and met with representatives from the American Red Cross. Fort Lee residents who heard about the fire came by to donate food, water and clothing.

Several of the displaced told News 12 that they lost everything that they owned in the fire.

Town officials say that the shelter will remain open as long as needed.

Despite the massive fire, officials say that no residents were hurt. A small number of firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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