Two firefighters injured in pesky blaze on Kearny’s Elm Street; three pets die

Kearny FD Chief Fire Inspector Juan Barroso Jr. speaks with a state fire marshal. Photo by Kevin Canessa

A five-alarm fire tore through three homes on Elm Street in Kearny the morning of July 18, 2021, but all occupants of the homes affected fortunately survived the blaze, though several pets did not make it, Kearny Fire Chief Joseph A. Mastandrea said.

“The Kearny Fire Department received a 911 call at approximately 9 a.m., reporting a fire at 350 Elm St. The Kearny Police Department arrived first on scene and was instrumental in getting an occupant to EMS and removing the occupants of both 348 and 352  Elm St.,” the chief said. “Kearny EMS transported a patient to the Burn Center at Saint Barnabas in Livingston and is currently being treated.”

Reports say that victim was an elderly woman.

Mastandrea said the first engine company arrived on scene to find a well-advanced fire in the front portion of 350 Elm St. and fire had already spread to the other structures. The Kearny FD made an aggressive attack on the fire to keep it from spreading any further than the buildings already involved.

The fire would ultimately reach a fifth alarm, requiring a recall of off-duty members, Mastandrea said.

The Harrison, Jersey City, North Hudson Regional, Bayonne, Hoboken, North Arlington and Belleville fire departments all operated at the fire, which was ultimately placed under control approximately 12:16 p.m.

“The Bayonne, Secaucus, Newark and East Newark fire departments provided coverage in our fire stations,” Mastandrea said. “A member of the Kearny Fire Department and from the Jersey City Fire Department were transported to area hospitals. The Kearny firefighter was released. The status of the Jersey City member is unknown at this time. Unfortunately, three pets did not survive the fire.”

Mastandrea said the origin and cause of the fire is being investigated by the Kearny Fire Department’s Bureau of Combustibles with assistance from the New Jersey State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The Red Cross, along with the Kearny Health Department, are providing assistance for seven adults and two children who were displaced by the fire. Additionally, the Gong Club of Jersey City was on scene to provide beverages and a cooling center for all the first responders on scene. At 9 a.m., when the fire reportedly broke out, it was around 78º Fahrenheit outside. As things progressed, temperatures climbed to approximately 85º.

Fourth Ward Councilman Gerald “Jerry” Ficeto was on hand for several hours to offer his support.

One eyewitness to the fire said she was grateful for all the responders’ work.

“It’s a very hot day and everyone was working their tails off,” the Quincy Avenue resident said. “It was incredible to see them all doing so much to protect the buildings and to keep everyone safe. It’s hard enough to do what they do, but on a really hot day, it’s that much more amazing. We’re very lucky to have them.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off 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 Facebook Live, 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 West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.