Fire rips though condo complex in Maple Shade, New Jersey; 1 injured

6abc Digital Staff Image
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Families escape fire that destroyed several South Jersey condos
Firefighters battled a 2-alarm fire at a condominium complex in Maple Shade, New Jersey.

MAPLE SHADE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Firefighters battled a 2-alarm fire at a condominium complex in Maple Shade, New Jersey Thursday morning.

It destroyed 8 units and damaged at least four others just before 4 a.m. at the Valley Glen condos on the 400 block of Stiles Avenue.

The fire quickly spread to two alarms and a wall collapsed.

Maple Shade Fire Chief Andrew Simonsick said the building was more than 60 years old and that the fire wall did its job of slowing the fire until the flames jumped over it and onto the roof.

The roof and a good portion of the second floor of the building were burned in the blaze, with just the outer shell left.

Those who lived in the building woke up to smoke and flames.

"The apartment below ours, there were flames all on the window," said resident Rebecca Grau.

Grau said someone knocked on her door and woke her up.

She immediately grabbed her 15-month-old son Jessie and escaped from the burning building before calling 911.

"The awning caught fire while we were talking to dispatch," Grau said. "The fire was spreading, the bushes caught on fire and then it hit the roof and spread up and towards the middle section."

Fire rips through a Maple Shade, New Jersey condo complex Thursday morning

Neighbor Gloria Haughton did the best she could to help others by knocking on doors.

"Just to see the way it burned, the flames were jumping, it's just devastating," Haughton said.

Fire crews did the best they could to slow the fire and once the smoke cleared, families realized that several people lost everything.

"I could look straight through my sister's place to the other side. Straight through. I'm just glad everybody got out, everybody's ok," said former resident Wanda Goodwater-Lewis.

Fire officials said one elderly woman was treated for smoke inhalation but is expected to be ok.

"The aftermath isn't good, but no one got hurt. You can replace a building, but you can't replace a life," said Chief Simonsick.

Grau focused on the silver lining, despite the devastation.

"My little one's fine, we're good. God's got it covered and stressing about it is not going to change anything," said Grau.

Fire officials have a long investigation ahead of them as they work to determine exactly how it all started.

The Red Cross is assisting the displaced.