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Fast-moving fire tears through businesses in Passaic

PASSAIC, N.J. — A fire broke out in the kitchen of a Passaic restaurant Monday night and quickly spread to several connected storefronts, calling five fire departments to fight the fast-moving blaze.

Firefighters responded to the fire shortly after 10 p.m. at 63 Lexington Ave., the location of South American restaurant El Chevere.

By the time the fire started, most of the businesses were already closed. Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Tretacost said any remaining workers were able to get themselves out.

A total of 11 businesses were impacted by the fire -- three were completely destroyed and the others sustained varying levels of smoke and water damage.

"The humidity, the weather, is really knocking us down," Tretacost said in a Facebook Live with Passaic Mayor Hector Lora. "Visibility is basically zero."

Twelve firefighters were treated for minor injuries at the scene. Firefighters were able to get the flames under control by midday Tuesday. An investigation into the cause is ongoing.

The fire consumed a row of shops in Passaic. (David Handschuh — @flyingmanatee on Instagram)

AIR 11 flies over the damage in Passaic