A fire in the rear of a two-family home at 304 Center Street in Garwood quickly turned into a three-alarm blaze Wednesday morning, requiring multiple Union County fire departments working for several hours to extinguish it.
According to Garwood Volunteer Fire Deputy Chief Tom Spera, the fire appeared to begin in the rear or perhaps deck of the first floor of the building and worked its way up to the second floor. Residents evacuated after fire alarms and smoke detectors sounded and fortunately, no one was injured. Police and firefighters also quickly evacuated homes on the rest of the block.
Spera says the back of the three-floor home was fully engulfed when he arrived minutes after alarms sounded around midnight. His crew entered the building to begin to fight the fire offensively, but was quickly pushed out by the heat and flames. As the fire escalated to three alarms, crews from Clark, Cranford, Westfield, Elizabeth, Kenilworth, Scotch Plains, Fanwood and Springfield also responded to the scene and fought the blaze alongside Garwood FD in a defensive attack with ladders and hoses. Smoke filled several blocks and many residents came out of their homes to observe the scene after hearing the sirens.
Around 2 a.m. the fire was mostly extinguished and crews began the process of overhauling in which they inspect for any lingering sources of heat that could rekindle the fire. The roof and much of the building was completely destroyed. Spera said water supply was an issue during the fire and was part of the reason other engine companies came in. Spera says he does not yet know the cause of the fire.
The owners of the building (which is rented) were on the scene and said they had simply received a call that their building was on fire; they had no guesses as to what could have caused the blaze.
Marilyn Tammaro, a family friend of the tenants, told Patch that the residents in the two units are family – four adults, three children, two dogs and seven newborn puppies who all made it out safely.