At least three people, including a 1-month-old baby, were rescued from a fire that tore through a Gould Place multifamily home Thursday afternoon.
The fire, which broke out at about 3 p.m., shot billowing smoke into the air that could be seen several blocks away at Caldwell Borough Hall, Mayor Ann Dassing said.
"This is the worst fire since I've been mayor," said Dassing, who was elected three years ago, after the epic Caldwell Diner blaze in 2010.
According to Dassing, the first two police officers on the scene rescued a man believed to be living in the attic. A neighbor, who saw the smoke, managed to pull a mother and her 25-day-old baby from the first floor, Dassing said.
The blaze displaced at least three families, some with school-aged children.
The fire in the three-level home rekindled at about 4:15 p.m. as emergency crews struggled to prevent the blaze from spreading to neighboring homes just a few feet away. The two homes on both sides of the structure were deemed uninhabitable due to smoke and water damage.
Caldwell Fire Chief Gary Garamella could not be reached for comment. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
The multifamily structure's roof eventually collapsed as it became engulfed in flames as crews doused the home with a powerful hose attached to a fire engine ladder.
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Responders from West Caldwell, Fairfield, Roseland, East Orange, Orange, Essex Fells, the West Essex First Aid Squad, Verona Rescue Squad and Montclair EMS were among those on the scene.
The Essex County Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Task Force also responded.
The fire at the home located next to Jack's Foodtown shut down traffic onto Gould Place between Bloomfield and Westville avenues as crews worked to place the blaze under control.
The fire appeared under control shortly before 5 p.m.
PSE&G also arrived and crews worked on a utility pole near the home.
One fire truck was expected to remain on the scene through the night in case the blaze rekindled.