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Exclusive: Video shows moment West New York apartment collapses during Thanksgiving fire

Eight firefighters were injured and more than a dozen people were displaced.

Amanda Lee

Dec 1, 2023, 12:25 PM

Updated 198 days ago


News 12 has obtained exclusive video showing the moments a West New York apartment building collapsed during a raging fire on Thanksgiving Day. The building is located on 53rd Street and Bergenline Avenue.
While construction crews are working to recover the building, the North Hudson Fire chief says first responders are working to recover physically and mentally. Eight firefighters were hurt and 19 people were left homeless.
“I’ve been on the job for over 30 years. I haven’t been at a fire where there was a smoke explosion or a backdraft. This fire had both,” North Hudson Fire & Rescue Chief David Donnarumma said.
Crews used their entire apparatus and all manpower to respond to the three-alarm fire that evening.
“First it flew people into the air on the roof, people in the building were thrown into walls, people were thrown down staircases, so we got banged up, bruises all over,” Donnarumma said.
As flames erupted from the second floor, mayday messages were called as the roof collapsed, trapping three firefighters.
“The furniture within the apartment stopped the roof from collapsing all the way down so the firefighters weren’t propelled into the apartment. They stayed on the roof but in the crevice, so we were able to rescue them with other firefighters,” Donnarumma said.
Two people inside were rescued while firefighters were sent to the hospital for serious and minor injuries. Firefighter Lou Isip is seen in a video leaving the hospital surrounded by team members after being taken in for several broken ribs, a broken ankle and a fractured foot. Others are recovering from things like smoke inhalation, bruises, and sprains.
“We were fortunate that it was no civilians injured, no civilians lost, the pain to the fire department was something because of the injuries and the injuries fester at home as well because it’s difficult to the families on a holiday,” Donnarumma added.
The chief says an event like this can also cause psychological trauma that could take quite a while to recover from. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

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