ELIZABETH, NJ – All available Elizabeth firefighters were called in to battle an all-night blaze that required additional firefighters from Union, Hillside, Linden, Roselle Park, Clark, Kenilworth, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, and Garwood. Mountainside, Linden, and Roselle fire departments also covered the city during the fire.
“You need all the manpower you can get for this kind of fire,” said Deputy Chief Lathey Wirkus. “You need to water the fire, search and rescue, and ventilate. Add 90 percent humidity and temperatures in the high 80’s, and the heat index gets pushed through the roof.”
The additional firefighters were needed due to the weather. Firefighters can only use one air tank, instead of two, in high humidity weather. The extreme heat pushes their heart rate and blood pressure up, and the firefighters need to constantly re-hydrate.
The blaze began at approximately 11 p.m. Sunday, August 2, and was under control by 7 a.m. The fire began at 228 Second Street, a residential and commercial building, and spread to the building next door at 230 Second Street, which houses a church and an upstairs apartment. Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion, but no other injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Two families, one in each building, will have to be re-located.
“The construction official has deemed [the buildings] unsafe to occupy due to lack of structural integrity caused by the fire,” said Battalion Chief Walter Clarke.