PATERSON, N.J. — One woman was killed and dozens of people were displaced, following a big fire on Sunday morning that spread to multiple buildings.
As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported, it was a devastating situation in Paterson. Hours later, crews were demolishing two of the five homes damaged by the fire, which reached five alarms. Firefighters remained on the scene in case any additional hot pockets were found in the debris.
Paterson Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Murray told Rozner the blaze broke out just before 2 a.m. at 489 Summer St. It’s unclear how it started, but the flames moved quickly.
“Companies were met with two buildings that were fully involved, rapidly extending fire to buildings surrounding. We have all close-in-space wood frames in this area,” Murray said.
It took 120 first responders several hours to get the fire under control. In all, around 47 people from nine families were evacuated and two firefighters suffered minor injuries. Sadly one woman, identified as 53-year-old Felicia Hernandez De La Cruz, died, the Passaic County prosecutor said.
A neighbor said she had five children, adding one son initially got her to safety. However, she ran back into the burning building to save her dog.
“She used to sell some food here as well. So anybody who didn’t have money to pay her, I mean, she wouldn’t mind,” the neighbor said.
One of the building’s owners started a GoFundMe page to help tenants who lost everything. Rozner spoke with her and a tenant, who didn’t want to show his face on TV.
“Hard-working people, decent people. As hard working, as good as they come, so it really is unfortunate and extremely sad,” owner Nieves Nunez said.
“I didn’t have time to react. I was able to get my cat, evacuate the rest of my family members,” the tenant added. “I lost everything, money.”
The Red Cross was on the scene helping those displaced.
Thankfully, Dafne Zarate’s grandfather was not home because he had just had eye surgery.
“It’s just sad because he has lived his whole life here,” Zarate said.
It’s a life that will have to start anew.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.