Yesterday, Jersey City was aglow in hellfire. Three separate fires were simultaneously burning on the morning of August 8. All 135 Jersey City firefighters on duty were working the fires and 70 firefighters from neighboring areas like North Hudson Fire and Rescue, Hoboken, Secaucus, Newark, Nutley and Harrison joined the fight. 14 firefighters were injured at the fire on our block alone.

Jersey City Fire Department

One man jumped from his second floor apartment and lived. The apartment building with all 22 apartments ablaze was on the corner of our block and it burned hard starting at 6:00am.

The Fire Department of Jersey City fought that fire for five hours and, after the building stopped actively burning, the firefighters doused the empty shell with water for another three hours to make sure no live embers survived.

I counted at least four pump trucks working the fire. Even if you aren’t in the midst of a major fire you cannot help but see just how an event affects an entire neighborhood. Water pressure is lost. Electricity is cut. Entire families watch in bare feet on the street as their property and wishes swirl into smoke and flames along the sky.

Fires are messy.

They leave behind mangled iron and wrought lives and tons of wet, black, ash in the streets. After the Fire and Police arrived on the scene to manage the burning on our block, an American Red Cross van arrived and parked in the middle of our street to offer help and assistance to those who were now homeless.

One cannot help but wonder, if you had 10 seconds to vacate your burning home, what would you try to save beyond yourself, your pets and your beloveds? A computer? A backup harddrive? Books? Clothes?

No one died in any of the fires and while that fact must not be lost on those who survived, one cannot help but have great sorrow for neighbors who must now find a way to start living again from nothing.


  1. We live in Union City. We could see the flames. Now we know it was the fire on your block. Glad everyone is okay.

  2. Hi ziner —
    I can believe you were able to see the flames in Union City. The fire was high in the sky for awhile.
    We’re trying to help clean up the chunks of ash from the sidewalks. When you sweep it up, the chunks dissolve into dusty pools and some of it floats in the air. This is going to take awhile.

  3. thank God you were all right. Alive.
    You will regain and even become more comfortable. But, the loss could be depressing and traumatic if anyone lost something too great to regain.

  4. Hi OSINACHI —
    Thank you for the positive and faithful comment.
    The police and a Fire Captain were just up the street helping some of the residents of the burned out building salvage their belongings. It’s sad to see my now former neighbors walking down the street lugging their lives behind them in garbage bags.

  5. This is so sad; I hate to hear about this stuff. Praise God you are safe and thanks for a grace-filled post.
    My brother’s family lost everything in a house fire and he had such a good attitude. I loved him so much for that. One night when the alarm went off in our apartment building, I woke my daughter up and said, “Let’s go.” I grabbed the cordless phone and was calling 911 on the way out. All we had was that phone and each other. Didn’t think about it then, but I guess that says tons.

  6. Hi Paula!
    Thank you for your kind words and I am sorry to hear about your brother’s family. Fires are awful things. I admire you for getting out with your daughter so quickly. It’s smart to move fast and not worry about the things left behind.
    Monday was trash day in Jersey City and we just put our stuff in bags on the curb to be picked up here. We don’t have special trash receptacles like some cities.
    On the day of the fire a guy was trapped on the second floor with the flames lapping at him and the people in the street went around and gathered up everyone’s bags of garbage to make a giant “pillow” of trash for him to leap into from the second floor.
    The guy had no option but to jump.
    He did.
    He landed safely!
    Can you imagine all the awful sharp and dangerous things people throw away? He was lucky he landed on soft things and not something dangerous.

  7. Thanks, David. I guess it was just a natural response. Ever since I can remember I have had the attitude “People before things.”
    Thanks for elaborating on the story about the guy who had to jump. I was wondering about the details of that. Whether it was a ‘tragic’ thing on his part or a necessity and he was aided. God surely had His hand on him, didn’t He?

  8. Hi Paula —
    Yes, it was an incredible story of a want to live.
    People don’t understand how people could have leapt to their deaths from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Research reports that animals and humans will always choose any means necessary to avoid being burned alive even if it means jumping out a window on the 50th or the second floor. The want to flee overrides the need for logic and I suppose somewhere inside us there is hope that we might be able to survive the fall.
    On 9/11 one of the biggest dangers to the first firefighters on the scene were people jumping. At first the firefighters didn’t know what those terrible “bangs” were that were hitting on the roof of the building. When they figured out those sounds were people landing after jumping out the windows they knew they had to be extremely careful entering and leaving the building in case someone fell on them.

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