Fire strikes 2-family home, injures 3


A early morning fire at a two-family house at 501 Bloomfield Ave. displaced its occupants and injured two firefighters and a police officer last Friday, Nov. 23, Fire Lt. David Hollywood said.

A Nutley fire rig was already on the road, having just finished cleanup work at another location, when the alarm of fire for the Bloomfield Ave. site came into headquarters, at 4:08 a.m., he said.

Two minutes later, he said, the rig arrived at the scene and called for a second engine, which got there at 4:12 a.m.

Police Chief Tom Strumolo said Officers Ted Durand, Joe Stewart, Andrew Vandorn and Chris Formato evacuated a man and a pregnant woman from the second floor and a man, woman and 4-year-old girl from the first floor.

Strumolo said Durand was hurt when burning debris fell from the second floor onto his neck and was taken to Mountainside Hospital for treatment and later released. A first-floor male tenant received minor burns to his feet, the chief said. “Mayor Alphonse Petracco and I commend these officers for their quick and selfless actions to safely evacuate the residents,” Strumolo said.

“With the help of a Belleville ladder company [and an assist from Bloomfield Fire Dept.], we were able to knock down the fire in 20 to 30 minutes,” Hollywood said.

The fire caused heavy damage to the second floor and roof and, to vent the flames, firefighters had to poke what Hollywood characterized as “large holes” in the roof.

More than 20 firefighters from the various jurisdictions combined to bring the blaze under control, Hollywood said.

The fire’s point of origin and cause remain under investigation, he said. The township has declared the owner-occupied building off limits, at least for now, due to the extensive damage.

An American Red Cross spokeswoman told The Observer that they were advised by the Fire Department that “people had a place to stay and, therefore, our services weren’t needed.”

– Ron Leir

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