A five-alarm fire caused damage to two homes Sunday, June 26 — at 210-212 Laurel Ave., Kearny — displacing three families including an elderly woman, six total adults and three children.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Kearny Fire Department’s Bureau of Combustibles, under Chief Fire Inspector Juan Barroso Jr., Chief Joseph Mastandrea said, so a determination of the fire’s origin has not yet been determined.
What is clear, however, is the first call to the fire came in at 10:38 a.m., and it took about three hours to fully extinguish. When the first group of firefighters arrived, Mastandrea said the department took aggressive actions — successfully — to keep the fire contained to the two affected buildings.
Firefighters from all over the area provided mutual aid, including from Harrison, which comes to fires in Kearny first whenever a second alarm is struck, as well as Jersey City, Secaucus, Belleville, North Arlington, Bayonne, North Hudson Regional and Hoboken.
While the fire was underway, firefighters from Hoboken, Jersey City and Secaucus provided house coverage in case of any other incidents. The Gong Club, of Jersey City, also provided refreshments and cooling stations for firefighters, who not only had to contend with a pesky blaze, but also the outside temperatures that rose to around 90º-Fahrenheit.
“There were also numerous residents who came by to offer water. I wish I knew them all by name, but we knew they were there — and we’ve very grateful for them for all they did,” Mastandrea said.
Mastandrea also said despite the conditions, “no one, residents of members, was injured” in the fire.
Two pets — a cat and a dog — were also removed from the homes.
The Kearny FD maintained an overnight fire watch to ensure there were no flareups — there were none — and that ended around 8:30 a.m., Monday, June 27.
The Red Cross arrived on the scene and provided temporary housing to all the affected residents. The two homes were deemed uninhabitable.
Lastly, the Kearny Police Department was also on scene and they assisted with the initial evacuation of residents, kept the large crowd of onlookers that developed well under control and blocked traffic in numerous locations. Laurel Avenue, between Devon and Chestnut streets, was kept closed until mid-morning, Monday, July 27.
So much lost
Meanwhile, all families involved in the fire are parishioners of St. Stephen’s Church, just a few blocks away. And, sadly, most of their possession were destroyed. One of the victims is among the eldest parishioners in the entire parish.
Another has children in the CCD program.
And yet another has children in the CCD program in addition to being a catechist (CCD teacher.)
To assist all the families, the parish is collecting gift cards — of any amount — to retail and grocery stores. The youngsters are 8, 10 and 18 — and there are six displaced adults in total. The parish is only accepting gift cards, but if you’re unable to purchase them, you may also drop off a check at the rectory, made payable to the St. Stephen’s Charity Fund” with “Fire Assistance” in the memo line. The parish will then use those funds to but the gift cards.
Those able to donate cards may do so by leaving them at the church rectory on Washington Avenue. If the rectory is closed when you arrive, there is a drop slot on the office door where the cards may be left.
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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.