Dozens homeless after NJ apartment building fire

Chopper 6 HD was over the scene of an apartment building fire in Jackson Township, N.J.

February 15, 2011 2:51:11 PM PST
Investigators are looking into a devastating overnight fire in Ocean County that forced dozens of people out of their homes.

A fire burned for more than 90 minutes at the Jackson Green apartment complex along the unit block of Justin Way in Jackson Township.

The fire started at about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday and forced at least 20 families out of their homes. They are all being assisted by the American Red Cross.

"We turned around and saw a whole bunch of lights against the trees and ran to the side of the house. There were flames everywhere," said fire victim Lisa Trotter. "We ran inside and grabbed what we could."

Every fire company in Jackson responded, along with backup from several other towns, responded to the scene. Two firefighters were slightly injured battling the blaze. Firefighters say the high winds made fighting the flames difficult.

Some of the residents said they had close calls escaping the flames.

"By the time I got out the flames were right in between the two apartments. My son's room was in flames," said fire victim Mark Mucha.

"The door was hot, so the fire was right there," said fire victim Judy Mucha. "It was just scary."

Investigators are at the scene now combing through the burned-out apartments looking for clues to the cause.

"At this point we have to label everything suspicious due to the volume of fire," said Chief Ray Tremer of the Jackson Mills Fire Dept.

While there are firewalls between the apartments, there are none between the attics. That, authorities say, allowed the fire to spread.

One of the residents displaced by the fire is Newark police officer Wendell Harper. He said he's normally used to being at fire scenes, but this day.

"It's gone. Everything is gone. Everything," Harper said. "Right now we're just trying to find a place to live."