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Two Firefighters Injured As Fires Scorch Playground, House

One of the injured firefighters declined transport to the hospital and the other was taken to the hospital with minor burns to his ears and neck. Both are members of the Elmwood Park Fire Department

Updated Tuesday, April 10 at 7:30 a.m.


battled two simultaneous fires that erupted within minutes of each other in the southeast section of Fair Lawn late Monday morning.

The first fire broke out around 11 a.m. in the playground at , forming a large black plume of smoke in the town’s far southeast side. Fair Lawn fire chief Eric Reamy said firefighters knocked down the fire pretty quickly, but not before it completely destroyed the playground, parts of which have been reduced to black soot and burnt plastic.

Just 10 minutes later, a house fire erupted on Zachary Terrace that forced crews to the scene north of Brookdale Park.

Reamy said that fire appears to have started on the outside and extended up the outside walls into the attic and second floor bedroom. Crews initially had some difficulty accessing the fire but were eventually able to knock it down.

“We’re under control,” Reamy said at the scene. “There are still a couple of hot spots we’re trying to get, but it appears we’re all under control.”

Reamy said while the house took extensive damage in the fire and is currently uninhabitable, he expects it can be rebuilt.

He said the fire department did not evacuate any residents from the house, but that two firefighters -- both from Elmwood Park -- were injured while fighting the blazes.

One was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center with minor burns to his ears and neck and has since been released, Reamy said. The other refused transport from the scene.  A report on NorthJersey.com said that firefighter had complained of shortness of breath.

The playground fire has been linked to three juveniles from Saddle Brook who were playing with matches, according to a report on NorthJersey.com.

The cause of the house fire, Reamy said, is still under investigation by the borough's fire prevention bureau, but it appears to be accidental and is not being treated as suspicious. 

Reamy speculated that the dry, windy conditions contributed to spreading the house fire.

"Right now we’ve got gusts of up to 20 to 30 miles an hour," he said at the scene. "It’s really aggravating the fire at this point."

Reamy said that when dry, windy conditions pose a , residents should avoid lighting any outdoor fires and be cautious with smoking materials.

In addition to all four Fair Lawn fire companies and the , fire departments from Elmwood Park, Saddle Brook, Paramus and Glen Rock responded to Monday's blazes. Hawthorne and Rochelle Park fire departments also provided coverage and Paterson came as a fast team, Reamy said. 

The Parks Department has cordoned off Brookdale Park playground and assistant borough manager Jim Van Kruiningen said that it will remain closed indefinitely.

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