Elizabeth fire kills 3 kids, 1 adult — ‘We are hopeful there’s no one else in that building’
ELIZABETH — Firefighters are hopeful they have found all the victims of a blaze that ripped through a 100-year-old commercial building Monday night, killing three children and an adult.
The fire was started around 6 p.m. on Monday night in a party supply store on the first floor in a soda machine, according to mayor Chris Bollwage. The fire quickly spread to a furniture store on the second floor and claimed the live of friends Daniela Marquez, 8 and Elizabeth Correas, 11. Marquez's mother, Merlyn Vasquez, 36, was critically injured and was unconscious as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Bollwage.
Two more victims, Paola Marquez, age 10 and Candida Martinez-Del Reyes, age 41, were found on Tuesday morning.
The victims had been shopping in the furniture store at the time of the fire, officials have said.
"There is no one else that has been reported missing to our police headquarters or fire headquarters as missing. We do not expect to find anyone else in the building at this stage." Bollwage said.
Responders are still going through debris but “we are hopeful there’s no one else in that building," he said.
The mayor said Vasquez was found with the two girls near a large window or door in the back of the building covering what likely used to be a fire escape.
“That fire escape is not there in this current design of the building. There were strong grates or wires or fencing protecting the door or window from anyone on the outside," Bollwage said.
Three police officers used a ladder to try and rescue the three in the rear of the building but were held back by intense heat and smoke, according to the mayor.
Bollwage said one of victims tried unsuccessfully to use a fire extinguisher.
“I’m not clear if the fire extinguisher didn’t work or if the person operating it was incapable of putting out the fire that quickly consumed the lower floor," the mayor said.
The building has been owned by a Brooklyn based company called OK Roger LLC of Brooklyn since June 2016, but Bollwage did not know if it had remodeled the building to eliminate the fire escape. The only previous violations issued at the property were for a sign that was the wrong size and garbage being put out too early for collection.