Pets killed, dozens of residents displaced in Jersey City apartment fire

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Pets died and dozens of residents were displaced by a fire that ripped through an apartment building Jersey City on Monday, authorities said.

The fire began just after midnight 446 Bergen Ave. in Jersey City, spreading to an alley and two neighboring buildings. In all, 42 people in 11 families are out of their homes. There were no serious injuries, but some pets did not make it out of the blaze. Two firefighters were treated for minor burns.

A firefighter rescued a cat from the burning building’s ledge, but four others from the same apartment died in the fire.

"We tried getting the cats out. That was our first priority because everything else remained in the building,” Nadlal Mano said.

He and his wife, sons and another cat made it out.

"I’d say in less than 2 minutes, it came across and the whole building was covered," he said.

Mano said his son first spotted the fast-moving fire on the ground floor of the neighboring building.

Firefighters are still investigating what caused the blaze. Investigators said it started inside a supermarket on the corner before jumping to the next building.

"Because of the construction of the buildings, the siding goes up like gasoline,” Jersey City Fire Chief Steven McGill said. "We call them gasoline shingles.”

The chief said the fire does not appear to be suspicious.

Some people returned to the fire scene later in the day to salvage whatever they could from their damaged homes. The Red Cross is assisting families with accommodations at hotels.

And amazingly, more pets were found alive inside one of the buildings as the day went on.

“We found two dogs in the basement in about 3 feet of water that were still alive, so we also got them out,” McGill said.

The fire department is working to distribute free smoke alarms to residents who live in single- or two-family homes. They’ll provide a free fire inspection and install the alarms. Anyone interested should call fire headquarters.