A 5-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy died and at least a dozen other people, half of them firefighters, were taken to hospitals when a raging fire consumed a multi-family home in New Jersey Friday, sending flames from the basement to the roof, authorities said.
At least three of those hospitalized are in critical condition following the fire that broke out at a house on 25th Street in Union City before 9 a.m. It escalated to a five-alarm blaze within an hour, prompting a major emergency response from authorities in multiple counties.
Witnesses described a horrifying scene.
“They were all unconscious, one child’s face was burned,” said Eddei Miranda.
Multiple Hurt as Inferno Devours NJ Home
The identities of the victims haven’t been released, but authorities said they are not believed to all have been from the same family. A shaken neighbor said she saw children on stretchers and parents in hysterics nearby.
“You see parents screaming and crying for their kids, and it’s terrifying,” said Elisa Jiminez.
Eudes Hernandez, a friend of a family that lost a child, was at the corner of the street when he says he saw smoke and fire. He ran to the flaming building and tried desperately to help get everyone out. He said he tried to knock on the doors, but he couldn’t even see anything because of all the smoke.
“i feel so bad for them. I knock on the door, try to get out everybody,” he said.
Chopper 4 footage showed an entire side of the multi-story building charred black from heavy fire. The windows looked like smoldering panels of charcoal as smoke billowed from the roof and sides of the house. People were seen gathering on the roofs of neighboring buildings to watch the response unfold.
A cause of the fire is under investigation. The prosecutor’s office said to avoid 25th Street near Bergenline and New York avenues.