WEST CALDWELL, NJ - The West Caldwell Fire Department says it responded to a basement fire at 9 Richard Ave. Tuesday at approximately 1:30 a.m. 

First arriving fire officers encountered heavy smoke in the duplex residence with a fire in the basement on the left side of the dwelling. 

Firemen entered the basement and found piles of clothing on fire next to the heating boiler and hot water heater. The fire was extinguished and the burned items removed from the dwelling. 

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Fire Chief Jim Alvine says the incident shows the importance of smoke detectors in homes.  

"Thank God the smoke detectors operated as designed and warned the residents about the fire. A few more minutes and the fire would have spread to the upper floors,'" he said.

The department says it received mutual aid from Caldwell Fire Department, a RIC team from Verona Fire Department and a fire standby from the West Essex First Aid Squad.