Dozens of families displaced by West New York apartment fire

CBS New York
CBS New York

25 families displaced by West New York apartment building fire 02:30

WEST NEW YORK, N.J. -- A massive fire in New Jersey left an entire apartment building displaced Thursday, and a family is devastated after their bodega was engulfed in the flames and severely damaged.

It started just before 5 p.m. in the basement of the four-story building on Madison Street in West New York .

Firefighters fought the blaze for over six hours, dousing flames on the roof of the apartment building with multiple departments trying to put out a fire that just wouldn't quit.

Behind the smoke was the charred Borinquen Bodega on the ground floor. Fabian Alava's family runs the neighborhood deli, and that's where they were when the fire started to spread.

"My sister-in-law starts screaming," Alava told CBS2's Tim McNicholas. "So when we go outside, we see there's a lot of heavy smoke outside, and then we see the kids that were trapped in the fire escape and they couldn't come down."

Alava and his brother-in-law say they grabbed their ladder and pushed it against the wall to help a child get down from the fire escape.

The American Red Cross says about 25 families were displaced from the apartment building. Another 15 families had to evacuate from a nearby building that was also damaged.

"We didn't even think at the moment anymore about the store. We were just thinking about what we were seeing, the kids," Alava said.

The American Red Cross is now helping the displaced families at a nearby school. We've learned tenants of the apartment building are being moved to hotel rooms, paid for by the town of West New York.

Smoke billowed though West New York throughout the evening as firefighters hosed down the building, but then, around 9:30 p.m., the flames re-emerged from the roof.

As for the bodega?

"Right now, we're really depressed," Alava said.

He says his family is still waiting to see how bad the damage is. They just opened the store about four months ago.

"The main thing is that everybody that worked in the store came out safe, and that's all that's important right now. Everything else can be replaced," Alava said.

We're still waiting to hear whether anyone was injured from the apartment building or if any firefighters were hurt.

The smoke could still be seen throughout the town late Thursday, and New York City Emergency Management even warned Manhattan residents might see or smell smoke as it drifted over the Hudson.

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