Officials: Fire in Jersey City rowhomes leaves several injured, at least 14 displaced
A large fire inside a group of rowhomes in Jersey City has injured several people and displaced more than a dozen people.
The fire started on the top floor of a corner unit of 163 Van Horne St. on Friday afternoon.
Large plumes of black smoke could be seen as far away as New York City while the fire burned. Fire companies from several different towns came to Jersey City to fight the fire.
Before firefighters arrived, when the flames started to reach the roof and the smoke became intense, neighbor Leo Valbuena ran across the street, kicked in the door and found resident “Mr. Bowen” inside.
“He was incoherent. I don’t think he knew what was going on. His hair was on fire. His feet were on fire, his hands. He was in real bad shape,” Valbuena says.
Valbuena wrapped the man up in a blanket and led him outside.
“I’ve been on this block for 40 years. He was here before me. I’ve known him since I was a little kid, so as long as he’s good, then I’m good,” Valbuena says.
Fire officials say these row homes have no firewalls between them so the flames spread easily. Five homes were badly damaged in the fire, and are likely a total loss.
"Most likely right now, yes, due to heavy water damage. All of the ceilings were pulled in all five buildings to expose the cockloft area, says Chief Steven McGill.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries while fighting the fire.
The American Red Cross is assisting 14 people in nine families to find shelter. One such resident is Luis Andino.
“I got called, they said, ‘Come home. Your house is on fire,’” Adino says. “It’s a mess. What can I do?”
Andino and other residents were allowed inside to gather some belongings before leaving. The homes will likely have to be demolished.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. But Valbuena says that the victim told him that he was using a drill at the time the fire started.