PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Six families are without homes and a firefighter is recovering from injuries after a fire spread through two adjacent houses in Paterson on Sunday.
It was a fast-moving fire. The fire department said it wasn’t someone who called 911 that sent them out to the location. It was actually someone who ran down the road to a nearby station to get help for the people who lived inside the homes.
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“‘There’s a fire. Come out,’” Jose Rodriguez told CBS2’s Cory James.
Rodriguez heard those words more than once.
“Second time, there was screaming. ‘Fire in the basement! Move, move, move!’” he said.
And that is when he jumped up and into action.
“I started looking for things to save. The cat was inside. I throw her outside. I take the dog,” Rodriguez said.
During those frantic moments, the flames were quickly spreading.
“It happened so fast. I could feel the heat,” he said.
The heat was coming from a fire that started in the basement of a multi-family home. But it did not stop there. Ring camera footage shows it also spreading to the multi-family home next door near Temple Street and Circle Avenue.
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“It’s just sad,” said Sharonda Roberts, who lives on the first floor with her three children.
She watched helplessly as everything she worked for went up in flames.
“We lost everything. Gotta start all over. It’s like starting from the bottom,” Roberts said.
Paterson Deputy Fire Chief Frank Calamita said it is unclear how the fire was ignited. He told James it was a hot, smoky fire that, fortunately, all 23 residents were able to safely escape.
“I feel bad for the people displaced. Just glad nobody was hurt,” Calamita said.
And that is how one father and husband felt, as he consoled his wife in front of their apartment.
“I never see something like that. I don’t know where I’m going, you know,” he said.
But they all know despite what was lost, they still have each other.
“That’s a blessing. I’m grateful to everybody all the families got out,” Roberts said.
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The firefighter who was injured was taken to a nearby hospital with non life-threatening injuries.