Police & Fire

Early-Morning Heroism 'Saved Many Lives' During Summit Apartment Blaze; Aftermath of Fire Reveals Extent of Damage to Structure

Credits: Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad
Credits: Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad
Credits: Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad
Credits: Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad
Credits: Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad
Credits: Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad
Credits: Robert Kopacz
Credits: Robert Kopacz
Credits: Robert Kopacz

SUMMIT, NJ - As fire tore through the upper floors of 125 Summit Avenue on New Year's Eve morning, Summit Fire Department, Police Department, Volunteer First Aid Squad and surrounding communities' first responders sprung into action, battling not only the blaze but brutally cold early-morning temperatures to extinguish the fire and perform multiple window-involved resident rescues.

“The impact of the fire at 125 Summit Avenue was devastating for its residents,” explains Summit Mayor Nora Radest. “Our first responders saved many lives today. I am so thankful for the firefighters, police and first aid squad volunteers who were on the scene, and appreciate the incredible response from the community.”

The fire call was received at 5:13 a.m., and the fire was declared under control just over two hours later at 7:14. According to a City of Summit spokesperson, two small flare-ups wer knocked down at the scene between 6 p.m. and midnight December 31, which is not unusual for the type of structure fire.

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Approximately 12 families from the apartment complex and adjacent buildings were displaced, with The Committed Pig restaurant shuttering its business for the day to serve as a refuge and staging area. The Grand Summit Hotel housed one family December 31, with the remaining displaced folks able to stay with relatives or friends.

The Summit YMCA immediately became a collection point for items needed by those affected by the fire, namely men's and women's clothing -- including coats and shoes -- and gift cards to enable the purchase of food and other life necessities. According to the YMCA, gift cards are still being accepted with volunteers needed to help with the collection, organization and distribution of donated items to victims. Those interested in volunteering should call the YMCA front desk at 908-273-3330.

The Red Cross, while not collecting items, is assisting those displaced in finding temporary shelter and other vital needs. Those interested in contacting the Red Cross to offer assistance are instructed to call 1-800-507-6050.

During the incident, 15 Summit EMS members responded with three ambulances, a first responder / command truck, and rehab trailer. A Medical Ambulance Bus was also requested from Elizabeth and another from Somerville. Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad members provided assistance to evacuees in The Committed Pig restaurant and remained on that detail until after the Red Cross arrived as well as firefighter rehab inside the Ambulance Bus. Two residents fo the building were transported to Overlook Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

No injuries to first responders were reported.

The Summit Fire Department was assisted at the scene by the Summit Police Department and the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad. Assistance for the five-alarm fire was provided by Union County Mutual Aid with Millburn, Springfield, Mountainside, Union, Fanwood, New Providence, Kenilworth, Scotch Plains, Berkeley Heights and Roselle Park Fire Departments responding.

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