Fire strikes North Bergen Waste-Water Treatment facility

Story and Photos by Ron Jeffers
  • Story and Photos by Ron Jeffers

Story and Photos by Ron Jeffers

As residents in North Bergen braced for Nor ‘easter #4, North Hudson Regional firefighters once again battled a multiple-alarm fire under dangerous weather conditions.

Shortly before 9 a.m., Wednesday morning, fire companies were dispatched to the area of 7117 River Road for a reported fire.  Due to the snow, fog, and the addition of low-banking smoke, Captain Leo Calvo, of Squad Co. 7 reported heavy smoke and a working fire, but could not give a building size up due to poor visibility.  That was followed by the second due pumper sending a radio message to Squad 7 asking if they needed a supply hose line from a fire hydrant, with the addition to the radio message of, “We can’t see you.”

The fire was located at the North Bergen Municipal Authority Woodcliff Waste-Water Treatment facility.  A sign on the front of the building read, “Plant Upgrades.”  Since the building was under renovation, and other hazards, firefighters began a defensive operation setting up hose lines and master streams from aerial devices.  Deputy Chief Dave Donnarumma transmitted second, third and fourth alarms in fairly rapid succession.  These alarms also brought in fire companies from Jersey City to the scene.

Ladder Co. 4’s crew carefully maneuvered their apparatus into a driveway on the north side, through thick smoke, to set up a ladder pipe stream.  Tower Ladder 3 backed in behind this until to set up their bucket for another master stream of water.

Due to a stench in the air and concerns over what was burning, hazaradous material fire companies from Jersey City and Bayonne were also called to the scene.  There are numerous high rise buildings and Palisades Medical Center in this neighborhood.  Air quality test showed no dangerous materials present.

A township officials said crews inside the building were using a torch to cut metal tanks, that were lined with plastic.  The plastic burned and got out-of-control.

North Bergen police ordered police, EMS and other support units to approach the scene from the north, out of the smoke.  Several firefighters were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and at least one member transported to the hospital.

A township DPW plow clears the street of snow and dropped salt to clear the area for emergency crews to operate safely.  In addition, the Jersey City Gong Club canteen truck set up a rehab area out of the smoke.

The fire was declared knocked down at 11:21 p.m., and fire companies began to pick up their equipment.

On March 2nd, during Nor ‘easter #2, North Hudson firefighters battled a 5-alarm blaze in a large apartment building on 26th St.  They were assisted by fire units from Jersey City, Hoboken and Kearny.  March is going out like a lion!