By Ron Jeffers.-
Fire consumed three stores along the Anderson Avenue business district in Cliffside Park on Tuesday evening. Before it was over, 5-alarms were sounded bringing in numerous mutual aid fire companies from East Bergen County.
At 7:21 p.m. local volunteer firefighters were dispatched to a report of smoke coming from the rear of AJ Pharmacy. Upon arrival, they were greeted with a heavy volume of smoke coming from the structure in a rear alley, off of Lawton Avenue.
Firefighters had to force open doors to reach the fire and began fire suppression duties. Flames, however, spread rapidly through a common ceiling cockloft into the three attached stores and flames then broke through the roof. As conditions got worse, Fire Chief David Martone ordered all firefighters to evacuate the buildings.
At this point, a defensive attack began using numerous hose lines, 5 ladder pipes, one tower ladder and one squirt apparatus.
Low-banking smoke covered the street for a great duration of the blaze, and firefighters were running low on air supplies. The Hackensack Fire Department Mask Service Unit reported to the scene to fill air bottles in the street.
Mutual aid fire units operating at the scene included fire companies from Fairview, Ridgefield, Edgewater. Palisades Park, Leonia, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs and Fort Lee. Teaneck’s Box 54 Club set up their canteen truck and a rehab station on the north end of the fire. Local EMT’s treated several firefighters for smoke inhalation at the scene, and passed out bottled water to the smoke eaters.
Firefighters managed to prevent the fire from extending to other attached stores to the north of the burning buildings, as well as preventing spread to the south were a three-story building stood, only separated by a narrow alley.
“They did a great job,” said the operator of F&D Framing. His business. in the building to the south, seemed to be in good shape.