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Thread: New Jersey Firefighter Dies Battling Major Apartment Fire

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    Moderator patries's Avatar
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    New Jersey Firefighter Dies Battling Major Apartment Fire

    A Passaic firefighter was killed and another was critically injured Wednesday night when a fierce blaze tore through an apartment building, authorities said.

    Their breathing tanks may have run out of air on the top floor of the three-story building on Market Street, near Monroe Street. A search-and-rescue effort was abandoned when fire swept the floor, forcing commanders to evacuate.

    Witnesses said rescuers pulled at least three children from the blaze, and then saved a man who had to undergo cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

    The fire was well under way at 10:40 p.m., two hours after flames were reported on the third floor of 198 Market St.

    Mayor Margie Semler said she was aware that a "fire officer" had been hurt, but did not know the nature or extent of injuries. Fire officials released no information.

    "We've got a lot going on right now," said a dispatcher who answered at fire headquarters.

    Police said one firefighter was found dead in the building and that the other was in critical condition at Passaic Beth Israel Hospital. Rescuers' efforts were hampered by the collapse of a roof 40 minutes after the fire was reported.

    There was no word on other injuries to firefighters or tenants.

    Authorities would not speculate on what caused the blaze, although a priest who took in about 15 children routed from their homes said some youngsters mentioned trying to cook their own dinner.

    Joel Rodriguez, an attendant at an Amoco gas station at Market and Monroe, saw a man run from the building, shouting that children were trapped. Another man ran inside, but was forced out by smoke, Rodriguez said.

    "The flames came right up" as firefighters arrived, he said.

    Moments later, Rodriguez said, police ordered him to shut off the gasoline pumps.

    About 10 minutes after the fire was reported, a frantic call for oxygen went out on an emergency radio channel. The man said he was in the rear of the third floor. He repeated his location, and then was abruptly cut off.

    As firefighters from Passaic and surrounding towns arrived, the Rev. Lawrence Bacik of Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church found himself tending to children who were burned out of their homes.

    "There must be at least 15 kids. I see them playing around the church all the time," Bacik said.

    "They didn't take anything with them," Bacik said of the families who fled. "They're all frightened."

    Bacik said some children mentioned that they were home alone and had tried to cook dinner for themselves.

    Fire and police officials kept crowds away from the building and blocked off surrounding streets.

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    Moderator patries's Avatar
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    Two firefighers hug

    Two firefighers hug outside an apartment building in Passaic, N.J., Thursday, May 10, 2001, where Passaic firefighter Alberto Tirado died while trying to save two children he believed were trapped in a burning building, officials said. Tirado, 40, died on the second floor of the three-story apartment when the roof of the apartment building collapsed. The children were already out of the building before Tirado entered, according to Fire Director Anthony Mingo.

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