Unoccupied home wrecked by fire

KEARNY – An unoccupied two-family home at 64 Laurel Ave. was severely damaged by a fire of unknown origin early last Friday — a fire that took nearly two and a half hours just to bring under control.

One firefighter was reported injured during the blaze.

KFD Chief Steve Dyl said the first alarm came in at 12:02 a.m. for the three-story, wood-frame house, located between Hillcrest Road and Alpine Place. Despite the response of all KFD units and three other departments, the fire was not declared under control until 2:26 a.m.


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Authorities believed the home had been unoccupied for at least a year, but people reportedly had been seen in or about the property on occasion. 

According to Dyl, mattresses, beer cans and bottles — possibly evidence of squatters — were observed inside. Since they could not be certain the building was empty, firefighters had to search the structure for potential victims, but none was found.

Bringing the blaze under control was complicated by fire within the walls, the chief said. Those walls and the ceilings had to be ripped open to expose and quench the flames within.

Dyl said the third floor was gutted by the fire, the roof and second floor were severely damaged and there was water damage throughout the home. 

One firefighter suffered a knee injury falling down a flight of stairs, was treated and released from Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville.

The fire was so heavy on the second and third floors that flames were threatening the neighboring house at 60 Laurel Ave. and two families living there had to be temporarily evacuated. Dyl said that house suffered some heat and fire damage, but thanks to the aggressive action of the fire crews, it was limited, and the occupants were allowed to return home. 

In addition to the KFD, crews from Harrison, North Arlington and Jersey City were at the scene of the blaze. North Arlington, Belleville and Bayonne provided back-up coverage for the town.

Dyl said a fire-watch crew remained on site all night in case flames reignited. At mid-morning Friday, they were still there. 

As of press time, the exact cause of the blaze was still being determined. KFD 

Chief Inspector Juan Barroso is in charge of the investigation.

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