A six alarm fire tore through several condo buildings on New Years Eve., collapsing two of them, but the firefighters knowledge of these type of buildings kept everyone safe. Residents of the Roc Harbor Condos along the Hudson River in North Bergen had not yet recovered fully from the effects of Superstorm Sandy when as many as 170 of them were left temporarily homeless again. North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue units were dispatched shortly before 6:00 AM to the condo complex at 8000 River Rd. Fire was visible to the first due units between two of the buildings on arrival. A second alarm, quickly followed by a third was transmitted as residents were evacuated and lines stretched. Flames rapidly spread upward through the two structures. Heavy smoke was pushing from all three floors and the attic vents. Unable to find the seat of the fire and knowing the quick collapse potential of this lightweight construction, members were withdrawn from the units and exterior lines were put into operation. Water supply and pressure soon became a problem, and with long stretches needed for water sources, additional alarms were transmitted. Also access for apparatus was a problem. The interior courtyard was inaccessible to rigs. All lines to that side had to be hand stretched.
Just over one hour into the job, a large part of one of the condo units collapsed, followed shortly by further collapses, and then the other building suffered the same fate. Ruptured gas line helped feed the flames until crews were able to shut off the supply. By about 9:00 most of the heavy fire had been darkened down. The two exposure buildings on both sides suffered fire damage, but the flames did not extend beyond that.
Two firefighters and three police officers received minor injuries. Initial reports put the possible cause as being in a heater closet. All of the complex’s units will be inspected before residents will be able to return.
Written and photos by Bill Tompkins
Courtesy of BTFirePhotos - User-Submitted Photo Story