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Electrical storms keep Clifton, NJ, Fire Department busy

Department: Clifton Fire Department - [Clifton, New Jersey]

Photo Ron Johnson
Paterson firefighters work on the roof.
CLIFTON, NJ — The morning of August 11 came alive shortly before 11:00 am as heavy thunderstorms; producing hail, torrential rain and frequent vivid lightning, tore through the city. Several lightning strikes were reported within minutes of each other, prompting the response of the fire department to investigate. They were dispatched to three separate incidents within minutes of each other on the northern end of the city. Two houses were struck by lightning near Getty and Main Aves. One of them sustained some structural damage but neither suffered any fire damage. A utility pole was also aparently hit and the caller reported a fire atop the pole. Engine 6 arrived on the scene and reported no fire at that time but obvious damage to the pole, and requested PSE&G (utility company) be notified.

At about the same time, dispatch put out still another call of a possible house fire at 482 South Parkway, which is located in the southern most area of the city. With all of the city's apparatus concentrated at the previous calls, Deputy Chief Verderosa requested a mutual aid ladder truck from Paterson to respond to the scene. He also released most of the apparatus from the other scenes and instructed them to respond to South Parkway.

Meanwhile, police units arriving on the scene notified dispatch that "it's going good" and to "have them (the fire dept.) step it up".

First arriving units advanced two lines through the front door and up into the attic where the fire was running the rafters. The ladder company went to the roof with ground ladders, to ventilate. Paterson Ladder 2 arrived on the scene and went to work assisting with ventilation and overhaul. Crews knocked down the fire quickly and effectively saved the home from extensive damage. The fire was placed under control in under an hour.

The actual cause is under investigation but weather has not been ruled out.

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