Firefighters from all over Essex County battled a fire that broke out Friday at an apartment complex on Franklin Street in Bloomfeld.
The blaze started in a bedroom of a rear first-floor apartment unit in the four-story complex, around 4 p.m, according to Bloomfield Fire Inspector Tom Wilson. By the time firefighters arrived, the blaze was "well advanced" and spread behind the wall up to the fourth floor, said Wilson. One tenant, he said, had to be rescued from a rear fire escape.
At around 4:45 p.m., heavy smoke still billowed out from the first-floor window as well as from windows on floors above it.
The complex, located near Berkeley Place, is split between two sides known as 210 and 214. Residents in 24 apartment units on the 210 side, where the fire originated, may not be able to return home Friday night because of smoke damage, Wilson said.
The American Red Cross was on scene to assist displaced residents, many shivering in the cold with pets as firefighters continued to work on the building.
Police on scene advised residents that they could seek shelter at the Bloomfield Civic Center, which had a shuttle bus ready to transport them.
Police closed off large section of Franklin Street, which was jammed with about a dozen emergency vehicles from communities including Bloomfield, Belleville, Nutley, Orange, Roseland, East Orange, Caldwell and Newark.
Gary Carloni, who lives on the third floor of the 214 side, said he was napping when a neighbor texted him around 4:15 p.m. alerting him to the fire.
"I grabbed my wallet, threw on some pants and I came outside and just saw smoke pouring out of the first floor," said Carloni, who has resided at the complex for 10 years. He said he could smell smoke as he exited the building.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, Wilson said.
This is a breaking news story. Check back on Patch for more information as it becomes available.