The blaze, which started in a second-floor apartment in the rear of 26 Gates Ave., was reported around 10:30 a.m. and was under control approximately an hour later, McGill said from the scene.
The smoke and heat on the second floor was so intense, an adult and three children could not get out of the building on a set of interior stairs. Instead, they had to climb down from a second-floor window at the front of the building, McGill said.
A total of 24 residents have been left temporarily homeless, McGill said, adding that one person suffered a minor scratch while evacuating the building. No other injuries were reported.
As firefighters battled the flames and thick black smoke, distraught residents of the building looked on from the street, some barefoot. At least two adults were crying.
A family of three who just moved into the first floor of the two-story building stood overlooking their home as bleak smoke engulfed it.
When it happened, I was nervous. I was scared. The last thing I wanted to do was for us to be caught up inside,” Felicia Pittiford said as she held her 3-year-old sons hand. So now that were out, Im a little more relieved. But Im still upset because I didnt get time to enjoy the place.
Koshawn Conrad, Pittifords boyfriend, said he helped catch three little girls from their father who threw them to him from the second floor of the house. The father also climbed out the window.
Pittiford said she had just bought new furniture worth $2,000 for her home, which they moved into on March 12.
A man, who was later identified as James Garcia, 56, of Toms River, was led away from the scene in handcuffs. Jersey City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said he was arrested for outstanding warrants for his failure to appear in court on previous matters. Property tax records list him as the owner of 26 Gates Ave.
Conrad also saved a four-legged resident of the building, Tom Terrific, a pit bull mix who lives in a second-floor apartment. He said when he knew the building was on fire he ran upstairs and broke open that apartment door. Tom came running out and Conrad opened the downstairs door so he could run outside.
Sarah Dawson, Toms owner, was at work at the time, at Liberty Humane Society, where she is a vet technician. Asked how he knew the dog couldnt get out, Conrad said, God told me that something wasnt right. I just felt it in my heart.
Through a friend, Dawson said she is in complete shock from having lost everything, except, of course, Tom.
For people looking to help the residents displaced by the fire, Jersey City has a GoFundMe page, gofundme.com/jc-cares
A three-alarm fire at a home in Jersey City forced a father to think quickly in order to save his childrens lives.
Firefighters say a father of eight had to drop three of his young daughters from the second floor onto an awning below, where another person caught them.
“The last thing my daughter told me is Daddy, I dont want to burn, please save me,’” says Orlando Martinez.
Fire officials say at least 14 people have been displaced. They add that this was the second time theyve responded to this building since December.