By Karen Zautyk
Three Kearny firefighters were injured, one seriously, as they battled a fierce blaze that swept through a six-family house on Devon St. early Sunday morning.
All of the 24 occupants of the building were safely evacuated, however, by members of the Kearny Fire and Police Departments.
According to Kearny Fire Chief Steve Dyl, the fire broke out about 2 a.m., apparently starting on the top floor of the three-story, wood-frame building at 118 Devon, at the corner of Hoyt St.
All 15 on-duty Kearny firefighters, representing the KFD’s five companies and under the command of Deputy Chief Ozzie Osborn, responded to the alarm, along with FD units from Harrison, East Newark and North Arlington,
Dyl said it took three hours to bring the blaze under control, and KFD personnel remained on the scene until 4 p.m. Sunday.
At one point during the flames, firefighters were forced to back out of the building because there was just “too much fire,” Dyl said. But before they could all escape, a ceiling collapsed in a hallway, trapping Kearny FF Mike Kartanowicz and Fire Capt. Gary Dye.
Other firefighters “had to dig them out from under the burning debris,” Dyl said. One of the rescuers. FF Mike Janezko, was hurt in the effort, suffering a shoulder injury.
He and Kartanowicz, who suffered a chest injury, were treated by Kearny EMS, then taken to University Hospital, Newark, where they were treated and released.
More seriously injured was Dye, who had been one of those trapped under the flaming rubble. When the ceiling collapsed, it knocked off his helmet and mask, and Dye suffered first-degree burns to his face. He was initially taken to Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville and then was transferred to University. He has since been released from the hospital.
Currently, the apartment building is uninhabitable, Dyl said, noting that, among other extensive damage, the roof had collapsed.
The Red Cross helped relocate the 24 evacuees, some of whom have found shelter with family or friends.
There reportedly was also minor damage to an adjacent house at 120 Devon St., which has been undergoing renovation.
The exact cause of the fire is not yet known. KFD Chief Inspector John Donovan is leading the investigation.