NJ FFs battling 3-alarm blaze nearly struck by car in police pursuit

Officials said Paterson firefighters at a rehab tent quickly moved out of the way to avoid being hit


Josh Axelrod
NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

PATERSON, N.J. — While evading police, a vehicle narrowly avoided colliding into a team of firefighters battling a three-alarm fire, putting a dramatic end to the chase and resulting in their apprehension Friday night, Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale said.

The chase began when Paterson police stopped a sedan around 9:30 p.m. It’s unclear what initiated the stop. The two unidentified suspects drove away on Fair Street and turned down Rosa Parks Boulevard where fire officials were removing their oxygen tanks, sitting and drinking water at the rehab tent.

“This could have been catastrophic,” Speziale told NJ Advance Media, explaining how firefighters quickly moved out of the way and no one was hit.

The car attempted to make a quick left into a driveway in order to turn around, but at that point the suspects were surrounded by police, as well as officials from the Fire Department and Passaic County Hazmat Team.

“It was just a very touchy situation,” Speziale said. “Thank god we were able to stop it and control it and everyone was able to get out of the way.”

Speziale did not know why the suspects were being chased and said an investigation is underway. They were taken into custody at the scene.

The cause of the fire was also unknown, though the fire investigator was on the scene. The fire was “dicey,” as the garage contained multiple doors that firefighters needed to saw through with some were attached to tension lines, Speziale said.

The owner of the garage was cooperative and pointed out to fire officials what hazardous materials were present, like paint thinners and solvents that could have exploded, prompting the Hazmat team to respond.

When Speziale first arrived around 8 p.m., he said a man was attempting to put out the fire with a garden hose. Eventually, the fire was contained to just the garage and with no injuries.

Another large fire across the city tore through a duplex Saturday morning and displaced 29 people.

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©2020 NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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