Trenton warehouse fire blazes to 5 alarms

TRENTON, N.J. - January 30, 2014

"We're all concerned because we don't know if the fire could come across, smoke inhalation in your house," Trenton resident Tonya Bethea said.

The massive 5-alarm fire that raged in a vacant warehouse on Taylor Street was called in around 10:00 a.m. Thursday.

Huge plumes of smoke could be seen billowing out of the building which sits next to a furniture warehouse.

"It's a lot of wood in terms of the flooring and that's generating the large amounts of fire. In the fire service, we have a term 'surround and drown.' That's pretty much what we're doing," Trenton Fire Director Quareeb Bashir said.

Bashir is calling the fire suspicious because there are no utilities to the building, which was also the scene of another fire several months ago.

Neighbors say it's been a hangout for the homeless.

"Homeless people for the last two years been in and out. I've been calling 911. We've had a fire in October," Trenton resident Valarie Carter said.

With all hands on deck and mutual aid called in from surrounding counties, another fire call came in from Monmouth Street where a duplex caught fire with reports of people trapped.

Firefighters rescued one woman and neighbors aided almost a dozen others including a baby.

"We went and helped them, picked them up, walked them to the van, called for an ambulance for the baby and a young lady with too much smoke in her lungs," neighbor Bernice Whitworth said.

"Kept the car on so the baby could get warm. I asked Bernice to go in the house and get blankets for the baby to keep her warm cause it was a newborn baby," neighbor Patricia Wilson said.

Three adults and that baby were taken to the hospital for observation. Witnesses say an elderly woman resisted their help trying to get her out of the burning building.

"I tried to get her out but she wouldn't let me get her out so the firemen came, busted out the window and got her out," rescuer Brian said.

A little dog named Ashley, who was seen shivering in a blanket, was also rescued from the flames, much to the gratitude of her owner.

"I was working, I got a call from my neighbor saying that my house was on fire and all I worried about was my dog," fire victim Sandy Estrada said.

The fire department began its day on the 400 block of Centre Street.

Flames were first reported at 8:30 a.m. in a vacant home. A second alarm was sounded as the blaze spread to adjoining homes.

It took crews about 45 minutes to get the upper hand.

Everyone inside the adjoining homes made it out safely.

Investigators are working to pinpoint the cause of the fires.

"The cold drains our firefighting crews and makes it that much more difficult to get into the building and fight the fire. We have to worry about slips and falls on the outside," Trenton Fire Battalion Chief Richard Seeds said.

Firefighters were also called Thursday afternoon to a basement fire on the 800 block of Genesee Street.

The fire director does not believe all the fires are connected, but this day has given firefighters a lot to deal with.

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