Lyndhurst fire leaves occupants homeless


A house fire in Lyndhurst last Thursday night, Sept. 15, left the occupants homeless, authorities said.

Lyndhurst Deputy Fire Commissioner Paul Haggerty said local police and volunteer fire units responded to 851 Pennsylvania Ave., a two-story-plus-attic residence, at about 10:19 p.m.

The police and firefighters, led by Second Assistant Fire Chief Joseph Abruscato, the incident commander, “were met with fire which had already self-ventilated through the mid-portion of the roof,” Haggerty said.

And, he added, “flames were emanating from a majority of the windows the house’s east, south and north sides.”

After confirming that all occupants had left the building before their arrival, “the first arriving engine company attempted to make an aggressive attack through the front door,” Haggerty said.

But, “at one point,” he said, “they were pushed down a flight of exterior stairs from a large ball of fire that that had flashed over them while making entry.”

The Lyndhurst volunteers then signaled a second alarm and requested mutual aid: Rutherford responded with one engine; East Rutherford sent a ladder truck; and North Arlington dispatched a FAST team.

Altogether, Haggerty said, there were 35 firefighters at the scene.

Meanwhile, fire departments from Nutley, East Newark, Secaucus, Wallington and Carlstadt provided stand-by coverage at Lyndhurst fire headquarters.

Haggerty said the fire was declared under control by 11:21 p.m. after an intense struggle to contain the stubborn blaze.

“The fire was deep-seated and consumed the entire first and second floors as well as attic space prior to FD arrival,” he said. “Crews had to be evacuated twice from the interior due to structural components becoming compromised, specifically, the roof, of which a portion had collapsed.

“The fire required a labor-intensive overhaul process to ensure all smoldering pockets of fire were extinguished.”

No injuries were reported to civilians or firefighters, he said.

Haggerty said the fire’s cause is being investigated by Lyndhurst Police Det. Vincent Auteri who asked the Bergen County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Identification to take photos at the scene due to the extent of the damage, although the cause “does not appear to be suspicious at this time,” Haggerty said.

The Lyndhurst Building Department has declared the building to be uninhabitable, he added.

– Ron Leir

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