2/9/2007 - Hackensack Fire Briefs


On Tuesday, February 6, 2007, at 0320 hours, the Hackensack Fire Desk received a call from the Hackensack Police reporting a structure fire in 109 Gamewell Street. As the members of the Fourth Platoon began to respond from Fire Headquarters they were immediately met with heavy smoke along State Street. On arrival the fire units found heavy fire in 109 Gamewell Street with flames impinging into 105 Gamewell Street and that structure beginning to burn. Two female victims were found lying on the ground in front of the fire building. The victims appeared to have jumped or fallen from the second floor. As the victims were being removed by emergency service personnel and transported to Hackensack Medical Center, the firefighters quickly began to aggressively attack the fires burning in the two (2) structures. As the firefighters battled the fires other firefighters were searching the structures for additional victims, none were found. A second alarm of fire was transmitted immediately and all Hackensack Fire Companies were brought to the scene and placed to work. A Third Alarm of fire was quickly transmitted bringing in Mutual Aid Fire Companies and off duty Hackensack Firefighters. The firefighters not only had to fight a well developed fire in two (2) structures, but they also had to fight the brutal sub-zero temperatures and harsh winter wind. As the water spray quickly covered the firefighters in ice, the ground and all equipment became icy and created a severe hazard as firefighters began to slip and fall. The harsh wind quickly fanned and helped spread the fire throughout the two (2) structures and the firefighters had to be ordered out of the buildings due to collapse hazards. The fire spread to a third structure, 111 Gamewell Street, but was quickly extinguished, causing slight fire damage. Following a three (3) hour operation the fire involving three (3) structures was placed under control.

One of the civilian victims expired in Hackensack Medical Center; the second victim remained in the Hospital. One firefighter sustained a back injury caused by a fall.

New Jersey Transit supplied a transportation bus to provide temporary relief for firefighters and residents.

Box 54 Canteen Service supplied hot coffee, hot chocolate, pastry and hot meals to the firefighters and residents.

Numerous Fire Mutual Aid assisted during the manpower intensive operation. Teaneck, South Hackensack, Englewood, Ridgefield Park, and Bogota fire Departments at the scene. Hasbrouck Heights, Maywood, River Edge and Little Ferry provided city wide fire protection for additional fire/emergency calls, of which they responded to five (5) separate alarms.

The fire apparatus, equipment and hose were so heavily covered in ice and unable to move. The New York City Fire Department dispatched a specialized unit, the Thawing Unit, which directs steam and hot water to melt the ice which had accumulated on the apparatus and equipment. This quickly helped place our resources back in service.

The Hackensack Civic Center was quickly opened as a shelter for the fire victims and the Red Cross assisted in relocation efforts along with Hackensack Emergency Management personnel.

The fire cause was determined to be accidental in nature by Bergen County Arson Squad.

Hackensack Fire Chief Joel Thornton praised the firefighters for their extreme effort, enduring brutal sub-zero temperatures a harsh winter wind while battling a well developed multiple alarm fire.

Special Thanks

The Hackensack fire Department would like to express its thanks to N.J. Transit, McManus Tool Rental, Bruno The King of Ravioli Co. for their donations and assistance. We especially appreciate the assistance of our mutual Aid Fire Departments for their time, effort and support and to the Red Cross for their time, care and relocation efforts extended to the fire victims.