Inferno at Bloomfield apartments



At least six families were displaced by a three-alarm fire that destroyed as many apartments at a complex at 44 Charles St. in Bloomfield Saturday night, authorities said.

Mayor Michael J. Venezia used his Facebook page over the weekend to keep residents and victims of the fire alike aware of what was happening.

“There are at least six families without homes following the horrible fire on Charles St.,” Venezia wrote. “I personally know two families that lived in the house. Five little girls [are] with nothing — sizes 7, 8, 10, 2T — and a 16-year-old girl. Two sets of parents as well. They have nothing.”

In the time since he first issued a plea for help, the mayor says people have already begun to donate — and his office will serve as a central location where people can drop items off during the course of this week.

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“I want to thank everyone in the community who has been willing to help the families of last night’s [Saturday night’s] fire,” he said. “We are truly a great community. Many of you have asked where you can donate and you can bring items to our Fire HQ on the corner of Franklin and Montgomery Sts. The rest of the week, you can bring items to the mayor’s office and the civic center. This is what I have so far. Also, school supplies and toys are needed.”

Several published reports tell the story of a man, Roy Campbell, who was working at a near-by mechanic, who risked his life to run into the building just as its roof was collapsing.

Campbell said he wasn’t sure if anyone was still inside at the time — but he wanted to make sure. As the roof came down, he was calling out for anyone still inside — several were, according to Campbell — and they were all escorted outside to safety.

One of the fire victims, Melanie Cruz, took to social media as the fire burned to express her gratitude for the work of the Bloomfield Fire Department and the other departments that provided mutual aid to the pesky blaze.

“I live in that house and just wanted to let everyone know everyone got out in time,” she said.
“Although we lost everything, our families are safe and that’s all that matters. Thanks to all fire departments who are still here as I sit in my car watching them risking their lives and the surrounding communities that also came to help try to put it out.

“I pray that the fire department and men who are trying to put this out come out safe.”

And it appears all firefighters did make it out safely.

Lucille Franklin, of Paterson, said she was driving on the Garden State Parkway when she saw the incredibly intense smoke from the fire.

“I could see it all coming from around the Home Depot,” Franklin said. “At first, I couldn’t tell if it was coming from the Home Depot. I later found out it wasn’t, but that smoke was crazy. It’s pretty amazing that no one was seriously hurt in that fire from what I’ve been heard. They were all lucky to get out and lucky no one lost a life.”

Meanwhile, firefighters from Verona, Clifton, East Orange, West Orange and Irvington provided mutual aid at the scene.


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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.